Minutes of October 2, 2014 Commission Meeting
1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Wasserman at the Ferry Building, Port of San Francisco Board Room, Second Floor, San Francisco, California at 1:07 p.m.
2. Roll Call. Present were: Chair Wasserman, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Addiego, Bates, Chan (represented by Alternate Gilmore), Chiu, Gibbs, Gioia, Gorin, Lucchesi (represented by Alternate Pemberton), Nelson, Pine, Sartipi (represented by Alternate McElhinney), Sears (represented by Alternate Adams), Spering (represented by Alternate Vasquez), Vierra (represented by Alternate Doherty), Wagenknecht, Ziegler and Zwissler. Jane Hicks was also present.
Chair Wasserman announced that a quorum was present.
Not present were: Association of Bay Area Governments (Apodaca and Techel), Santa Clara County (Cortese), Department of Finance (Finn), Governor's Appointees (Jordan Hallinan and Randolph), and Regional Water Quality Control Board (McGrath).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Wasserman announced two changes to the agenda: We are going to postpone Item 10 because the contract has not been finalized. We expect the contract to be ready at our next meeting. We will also postpone Item 12 because Commissioner McGrath who requested the briefing is away on regional-water-quality-control-board business. We intend to reschedule this item for our first meeting in November.
The next order of business is public comment. If there is anyone from the public who wishes to speak on an item not on the agenda, now is the time to do so.
Seeing no speakers, Chair Wasserman moved on to Item 4, Approval of Minutes.
4. Approval of Minutes of the July 17, 2014 Meeting. Chair Wasserman entertained a motion and a second to adopt the minutes of July 17, 2014.
MOTION: Commissioner Vasquez moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted, to approve the July17, 2014 Minutes. The motion carried by voice vote with no opposition and Commissioners Ziegler and Hicks abstaining.
5. Report of the Chair. Chair Wasserman reported on the following:
a. New Business. If anyone has a suggestion for new business to discuss at a future agenda, now is the time to do it. We don't have any, thank you.
I have some very good and, we hope, exciting news. Next year, in approximately 50 weeks, BCDC will celebrate its 50th anniversary. I think we all can agree that this will be a momentous occasion that merits both a public celebration as well as some reflection.
I would like three to five Commissioners to volunteer to work with me and staff to plan that celebration. You can raise your hands now or let Larry or me know. We have two volunteers here, Commissioner Wagenknecht and Vice Chair Halsted. We will need a couple of more Commissioners for this. We have eleven months and I think this is enough time.
We may want to create a non-profit corporation affiliated with the Commission for very limited purposes. One of them may well be fundraising only for the fiftieth celebration. It might also be useful to accept grants because there are some foundations that have foolish policies that will not give grants to government agencies. We might be able to capture some additional sources of funding that way. We will keep you updated on this.
As to the other issue of reflection, fifty years is mid-life, mid-career, we have something we think you'll enjoy very much. Starting soon, we hope by the first meeting in November, we're going to bring forward at the beginning of each meeting a surprise guest or two who to talk about the history of BCDC and they will be people who were present at the making of that history. We will be learning from the people who made our history. We think you will enjoy the short sessions.
Last month, BCDC representatives were invited to attend a conference with our Brazilian counterparts in the City of Salvador, Capital of the state of Bahia. Commissioner Gibbs was willing to make the trek to the Southern Hemisphere to represent us and made a presentation to the conference on BCDC's history, purpose and activities. I would like to ask Commissioner Gibbs to give a short presentation and tell us about that.
Commissioner Gibbs presented the following: It was a conference on the management of bays sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Salvador, Bahia which is the oldest chamber of commerce in our hemisphere, founded in 1811.
Salvador was one of the first capitols of Brazil. They too have a bay known as the Bay of All Saints and it is a centerpiece of their region. They want to make it even more of a centerpiece and they're looking for examples from around the world on how to do that.
They turned to us for advice on the governance because they have the same problem that we had fifty years ago, the governance is all broken up among federal, state and local jurisdictions there. I made a presentation on that and our model which they are already aware and it was very well received.
They also had the mayor of a city in Portugal known as Setubal that has a beautiful bay and she is president of what is called, The Most Beautiful Bays in the World. It has about thirty members of which we are one. She made a slide presentation and there are some amazing bays in the world.
They also had a presentation from Rio de Janeiro's Bay, Guanabara, which is essentially dead. Salvador's Bay is very much alive and they want to keep it that way. Rio's Bay is dead and Rio has entered into a compact with the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, which itself was apparently dead about two decades ago, and has gradually been restored to life. They are working very closely with Chesapeake. The bottom line is, they recognize bay as a resource. They want to move forward with development than conservation at this point and they're looking around the world for models. BCDC is well known and very well received.
Chair Wasserman thanked Commissioner Gibbs and continued the meeting.
Next BCDC Meeting. Our next meeting will be held October 16th at the Metro Center in Oakland. Please remember to go to Oakland and not here.
We will consider and may vote on an application by PG&E to place a new cable in the Bay and the shoreline band.
We expect to have a presentation by Commissioner Vasquez on Solano County and the Bay.
We will have a briefing on the San Francisco Waterfront with representatives from the Port of San Francisco.
We may have further considerations on the report from the working group on rising sea level. I would like to recognize Commissioner Pine to give us an update on San Mateo County's progress in that same area.
Commissioner Pine presented the following: San Mateo County is ground zero insofar as sea level rise is concerned. We have a number of initiatives under way.
First with funding from the Coastal Conservancy, we're doing a vulnerability assessment and looking at adaptation strategies for the shoreline just north of the airport. The airport has invested a lot of money into assessing their own properties. They're only as protected as the properties north and south of them.
Secondly, we have had two convenings in the County about sea level rise. As an outcome of those meetings we formed a couple of working groups to try to take on some of the tasks.
One is to see if we can prepare a vulnerability assessment for both our bay side and coast side. The Coastal Conservancy has become very interested in that work and is going to partner with us to help accomplish that.
Another working group will be meeting on Friday to start to talk about local financing options for sea level rise work.
San Mateo County does not have any kind of flood control district and has a hard time dealing with the problems we face now with flooding, never mind sea level rise.
And then finally, earlier this week FEMA came to the County and made a presentation to the County and the 20 cities in the County about their new proposed maps which will be effective in about two years. It was pretty sobering.
FEMA does not look at sea level rise but they are adjusting their maps. It's going to have a big impact on the residents of San Mateo County because a lot of new property will be in these hazard zones which require insurance.
The FEMA-map process which will affect everyone in the Bay Area is part of a comprehensive San Francisco Bay map revision process which is going to bring more urgency to this work because people are going to be very worried about paying these insurance premiums.
We are pushing the ball forward in San Mateo County in those ways. Chair Wasserman recognized Commissioner Doherty.
Commissioner Doherty commented: FEMA is doing a pilot study in San Francisco about incorporating sea level rise into their mapping. They are developing a methodology that can be applied throughout the state in terms of using their existing methodology and then building for the rise on top of that.
Chair Wasserman continued the meeting.
b. Ex-Parte Communications. That completes my report. This is the moment in time when if you have an ex-parte communication that you have not otherwise registered which you wish to register on the public record, this would be on adjudicative not necessarily on policy or legislative matters. Does any Commissioner have any report that they would like to make? (no Commissioners responded)
Chair Wasserman turned the meeting over to Executive Director Goldzband.
6. Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Goldzband reported:
It has been quite a while since we have sat together. Baseball playoffs are underway, leaves are turning. Somebody said a long time ago that Autumn is the hush before Winter. If that is the case then we are about to start jogging before the sprint. We have a short agenda today, but we will be meeting each of the successive first and third Thursdays in October and November and also the first Thursday in December. The agendas of these meetings are important because of the various timings and applications and so on.
A few weeks ago the Governor signed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and as soon as that happened we started working on next year's budget. Since that time staff has met with the Department of Finance twice. Chair Wasserman and I have met with members of the Governor's senior staff and all of our discussions have been very productive and they have been filled with hard questions about our strategy and our structure. We should know the results of our continuing efforts within the Administration at some point in November. Once again, I want to publicly thank Chair Wasserman for his assistance.
With regard to our professional staff, I have some sad news to report as well as some good news. First, Richard Ng, our Chief Financial Officer who has been at BCDC for 15 years will retire at the end of the year. Richard has been a stalwart – he has ensured that BCDC has fulfilled every financial obligation required by the state and federal government throughout his career and that's no easy task. We shall miss him and his spreadsheets. However, in a brazen act of chutzpah, Sharon Louie has enticed Margaret Chew to leave the California Coastal Commission and join our staff as Richard's replacement. Margaret please stand so that people can see you. Margaret is a graduate of Cal and has spent over 30 years at the Commission where she is its Accounting Administrator Supervisor. If Sharon looks nervous, it's because she keeps looking around corners, positive that Coastal Commission staff are plotting some type of retaliation. Unless any of you object, Margaret will start at BCDC on October 20th to begin a successful overlap and transition with Richard. (no objections voiced) Thank you very much.
I'm pleased to report that Miriam Torres has accepted a one-year limited term position in our planning section. Miriam received her BA in Conservation and Resource Studies at Cal as well and a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA. For the past few years Miriam has focused on planning and delivering urban greening projects in disadvantaged communities and she has considerable public policy and environmental justice work experience. Miriam is going to work on our new ART Project along the Contra Costa northern coast among other duties. We wish her well unless somebody here has an objection. (no objections voiced) Thank you very much.
Also during Autumn we have a contingent of interns, all of whom are far more incredibly qualified than any we've had previously. Kim Parisi is our new GIS intern. She earned her B.S. in Ecology & Evolution with an emphasis in Marine Biology from the UC Santa Cruz. She has worked as an instructor at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point and as a Research Technician in the field.
Sam Mix (stood and was recognized) will assist the enforcement staff in maintaining the new permit compliance process. Sam graduated in May from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a BA in Environmental Science and Policy and a Minor in Economics. Sam was active in student government while at Clark and now is pursuing a professional certificate in GIS from San Francisco State University.
You have a picture in front of you that was taken early in the morning on September 18th. This is the first cruise ship that was berthed at the new cruise ship terminal on the waterfront in San Francisco, Piers 27 through 29. Everything seemed to work and ultimately the cruise ship terminal was formally opened on September 25th.
You have several articles in front of you in your packets but I want to draw your attention to one in particular. It's entitled "A Tale of Two Cities: Miami, New York and Life on the Edge.” It is a very, very good article on the challenges facing both of those cities as they begin their adaptation planning. I think you'll find that many of their toughest challenges are also ours. It is a far, far better thing to read this article than to let it rest beyond your reach.
You may remember that BCDC held a workshop for Commissioners and Alternates last October at which you and many others actively contributed to the success of our Adapting to Rising Tides program. We received so many positive comments about that workshop that we are going to hold another workshop next March; this time, with SPUR. SPUR has a burgeoning climate change and rising sea level mitigation and adaptation program and is a partner of ours on our Mission Creek project right next to AT&T Park. Details will follow.
Now, I do need your attention on two important legal matters.
First, in June, I told you that Reggie Abad of our staff eagerly awaited the certificates you were to mail to him after you completed the required state ethics training. I also said that we would read the list of Commissioners who had not completed the training. (Reggie stood and was recognized) I have a list of Commissioners here who have not completed their training. I will not read it. You will each get an email from me letting you know that you are on this list. You don't want to be on that list after the next couple of weeks.
Second, from time to time it's incumbent upon me to request that you fulfill another one of your legal obligations and that is, to make sure that you document your ex-parte communications. We have a form that you can get off of the website and that has been sent to you.
We have received a number of Public-Records-Act requests during the past year. I will ask John Bowers to distribute to each Commissioner and Alternate information about how to fill out the form and to let us know of any ex-parte communications that you may have had. Even if you report your ex-parte communications during our meeting, we still want the form filled out and sent to us.
I am pleased to report that the BCDC's Bocce team made it to the playoffs and is preparing for its fall season. That completes my report Mr. Chairman and I am happy to answer any questions you all may have.
Chair Wasserman asked for any questions and received no response to his request. The Chair moved on the next item.
7. Consideration of Administrative Matters. Chair Wasserman reported: We have received a listing of these on September 19th and Brad McCrae is here to answer any questions if there are any.
8. Commission Consideration of a Contract for Administrative Support Services. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 8 is consideration of a contract for administrative services. This a $162,000 contract for this fiscal year and $166,00 per year for the following two years to provide administrative services in the area of human resources provided by the California Coastal Commission. Lawlun Leung will make the staff presentation.
Mr. Leung made the following presentation: I am the human resources liaison at BCDC. I am here to present the staff's recommendation that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to renew a contract with the California Coastal Commission in the amount of $494,000.
The Coastal Commission will provide human resources services to BCDC over the three year period from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017.
BCDC is one of the smaller departments in state government, therefore, rather than hire its own personnel staff, BCDC has relied on the Coastal Commission for a range of human resources services in the areas of recruitment, benefits administration and payroll to name a few.
The Coastal Commission has a strong understanding of BCDC's staff, mission and personnel needs and has done an excellent job of providing these services.
The staff recommends that BCDC continue to contract with the Coastal Commission for these required services. The staff further recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to: (1) amend the contract as necessary, so long as the amendment does not involve substantial changes to the services provided; and (2) renew or extend the contract subject upon availability.
I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Chair Wasserman called for questions from the floor.
Vice Chair Halsted commented: On the question of performance evaluations, that is done internally to BCDC as I recall? Lawlun Leung responded: That is correct. It's not done by the Coastal Commission.
Chair Wasserman asked for a motion and a second to approve the staff recommendation.
MOTION: Commissioner Nelson moved approval of the staff recommendation, seconded by Commissioner Adams. The motion passed by a voice vote with no abstentions or opposition.
9. Commission Consideration of a Contract for the Joint Policy Committee's Organizational Development Consultancy Project. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 9 is consideration of a contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to provide partial funding for a consultant to provide organizational planning services for the Joint Policy Committee. Executive Director Goldzband will make the staff report.
Executive Director Goldzband spoke: Staff recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to enter into a contract with MTC through which BCDC would provide $10,000 to MTC in support of the Joint Policy Committee's organizational strategy development proposal. Allison Brooks is the Executive Director of JPC and will talk after I do. In sum, JPC approved hiring a consultant to assist the JPC and its member agencies reach shared understandings and agreements on the following tasks:
(1) To clarify roles, responsibilities and functions.
(2) To organize policies and Bylaws.
(3) To develop and emulate best practices.
Essentially the four executive directors or the four agencies agreed that we've gotten to the point now at the JPC whereby we need to have more structure because we're going to be doing more. We thought that it would be a good idea to retain a consultant to help us do just that.
That Mr. Chair is my staff report.
Chair Wasserman added: And the consultant who was retained is the same consultant who assisted us on our strategic planning, Gina Bartlett. I would like Allison Brooks to address us on this topic.
Ms. Brooks addressed the Commission: I am excited about this process. The JPC can contribute to many of the activities that BCDC is working on. We can make it stronger and contribute to the whole integration of BCDC with the other regional agencies and how we can continue to be aligned and effective in addressing some of our biggest regional issues.
All four of the agencies that are a part of JPC have been able to contribute to this. This says a lot about our growing belief in integration and working together to tackle these issues.
Pending your approval of this I did want to say, on November 21st at the next JPC meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon at the MetroCenter in Oakland, we'll use that time for engaging in organizational planning discussion. We'll also be releasing a survey which we can make available to all of you to fill out in terms of your thoughts and ideas around the JPC.
Chair Wasserman called for any questions from the floor.
Vice Chair Halsted commented: I believe we have six members of BCDC who serve on the JPC.
Commissioner Gioia stated: I believe there are four who serve on the JPC.
Chair Wasserman asked for a motion and a second on Item 9.
MOTION: Commissioner Pine moved approval of the staff recommendation, seconded by Commissioner Zwissler. The motion passed by a voice vote with no abstentions or opposition.
10. Commission Consideration of a Contract to Hire Three Climate Corps Fellows. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 10 is not going to be considered because the contract is not completed.
11. Commission Consideration of a Report and Recommendations of the Commissioner Working Group on Rising Sea Level. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 11 is consideration of the report and recommendations of the Commissioner working group on rising sea level. Executive Director Goldzband will make an introduction and then the members of the working group will make some comments on that report and then we will entertain questions and comments.
Executive Director Goldzband presented the following: One of the things that the Chair has done a number of times during his tenure is to put groups of Commissioners together on specific topics so that we can do a "deep dive” into a topic one of the first was rising sea level.
In February 2013, Chair Wasserman announced that BCDC would create an informal Commissioner working group (CWG) to strengthen the Commission's expertise on the issue of rising sea level. Chair Wasserman has always asked three questions regarding sea level:
(1) "What can we do?"
(2) "What should we do – given reasonable priorities and unforeseen consequences?"
(3) "How do we fund it?"
We were very fortunate as staff to have a real intense series of discussions among the Commissioners and a number of guests. I want to note that the Commissioners who are members of the group and who participated incredibly fully are Commissioners Gibbs, Gioia, McElhinney, Pemberton, Pine, Scharff, Sears and Zwissler. Usually we met at least once a month before a BCDC meeting for as much as a couple of hours. The CWG met monthly, usually for up to two hours prior to a Commission meeting over an 18-month period. Its members participated in a series of discussions with community, public-sector, private-sector and non-profit leaders. Ultimately, what was determined is that the Commissioners wanted to have a report presented to the full Commission with a list of recommendations. That report has been distributed to all of you and to the public. Chair Wasserman will now review that report and help the Commissioners review.
Chair Wasserman's review was as follows: I would ask the Commissioners who are on the Committee to make any comments. Oh, I get to start.
I'll start with a couple of comments. This is an important piece of one of our major missions; to lead this public campaign on figuring out how we can best adapt to rising sea level.
We know it's coming. John Englander is here and is one of the most articulate and effective commentators on rising sea level. We know that sea level will rise three feet and more between 2015 and 2100. We are not exactly sure when and we're not exactly sure how far it's going to go.
One of the things that is addressed in this report and has come out of the Committee's thinking and discussions is, why we think it's important to use three feet because it's a number people can grasp, that's only part of it because in addition to the uncertainty of when and how much higher it's going to rise there is also total sea level; when you take into consideration high tides, king tides, and storm surges.
So that a three feet increase in base water level can, with those other factors, mean more than six feet of sea rise. We're going to incorporate that much more clearly into our application process and our permitting.
There are a number of steps here and for me one of the most important themes is going to be how we're going to communicate this to the various publics who need to know it. We've got concentric circles of those who need to be made more aware and more informed and hopefully more focused on this issue. This includes the policymakers that many of you represent. It includes staffs of local, regional and state agencies. It includes businesses. It includes particular interest groups and ultimately includes the broader public who will be affected by this and are going to have to help pay for how we address it.
With that semi-brief introduction I would now offer anybody to comment.
Commissioner Pine followed Chair Wasserman's commentary: The working group had an opportunity to talk to a lot of different people with different perspectives on the issues. Over the course of our work we talked to a wide spectrum of people.
People are in different places in terms of how much they know about this, how much they're thinking about it and how much they're planning for it.
In many ways we have identified a lot of issues that we are not making recommendations on. I was pleased in particular that there are some very specific things that have come out of our work.
First, the notion that we really should consider the total water level and that is a very concrete recommendation.
Secondly, is the notion that we need to look at our policies on bay fill because our history has been to prevent bay fill but bay fill is likely to be necessary.
Those are very concrete recommendations coming from the work that the Committee will move our work forward. These are very tangible outcomes of what we've thought about.
Commissioner Gioia commented: I think the idea here is that this working group would continue for the ongoing work. You'll see on page five some of the ongoing tasks that the working group wants to continue to work on.
We want to hear your input on these. This is a fluid document. It's not meant to be cast in stone. In today's meeting we made a couple of modifications to it.
I think that the idea that someone needs to exercise leadership to really make this happen is important. For those of you who were here when we approved the Bay Plan Amendment, you recall that we said, yes, our policies will only apply to the 100 foot shoreline band but that we really are going to take on the role of facilitating with local governments, other regional agencies, including the Joint Policy Committee, the development of an adaptation plan for the Bay Area.
Since the Bay Plan Amendment was passed we are the only entity that has exercised a fair amount of leadership in this area, with the Joint Policy Committee included because it has been doing a lot of climate change work with our support.
I would suggest that if you have comments on this that you can provide them to us at the work group or to Larry or the Chair.
The biggest take-away for me is how little engaged the private sector is in this issue, and frankly, even the public jurisdictions. Job one seems to be raising the level of knowledge awareness and education about this issue in the region to the private sector as well as our other colleagues in local government. We are in the best position to do that.
When we did engage some of business sectors in an intense way, they are concerned and they understand but someone needs to really help them.
The final thing I will say is that the Contra Costa Shoreline Resiliency Program is an important opportunity for us to get the word out. The ART Project along the Alameda County shoreline was very productive and we are going to be doing it around other shorelines as well.
Hopefully in Contra Costa, we will use that as an opportunity to try to implement some of the things that are in this plan and to really do the outreach.
We heard that at some point, you're going to talk about your vision of a public campaign. We're also waiting to hear about some of that.
Commissioner Zwissler said: I want to drill down to a level below which you were talking about. There was a big element of surprise for me because over the last few years I've heard over and again, there is a meme out there saying, just wait until corporate America wakes up to this challenge and the market will fix this.
And the secondary meme was, and wait until the insurance guys wake up to this. No way are they going to insure risks that are so obvious and they're going to force corporate America to toe the line - wrong, wrong, wrong.
And when you step back and think about it for a second it's really clear why. Number one, corporate America, business folks are doing real well to think about six, twelve, eighteen months in advance or three to five year strategic plans, but we know what those really are.
No one that we met is actively, seriously engaged in the issue because it's not in their hierarchy of needs and it doesn't make sense to them. It's not logical for them to do so.
We have to shift the paradigm to create incentives or reasons why they have to get engaged.
We learned that the insurance industry doesn't insure flood risks, the federal government does. The applicability of the FEMA information comes in very importantly.
We thought, maybe the re-insurance guys are addressing this; but no, they are equally not there because the terms of what they're looking at are very short term. No one writes 50-year insurance policies. They write one-year insurance policies.
This was eye opening and whatever campaign we mount we need to understand that this isn't something that the private industry is really going to be able to tackle in a big way without the help of other points of leverage.
Commissioner Gibbs commented: My main take-away was that as a result of the rising sea level we can come to expect, we shift our paradigm from fighting a shrinking Bay to trying to deal with an expanding Bay. That is going to take a shift in everything we've been thinking about and trying to do in these past 50 years.
Commissioner Pemberton addressed the attendees: I want to say that it was great to be a part of the working group and I thank everybody for all their hard work. There is a lot more work to do and I look forward to continuing to participate.
Executive Director Goldzband added: Something that wasn't mentioned is really important here. The Little Hoover Commission Report which came out two months ago had a challenge to the state government which is a very, very technical challenge with a lot of policy ramifications about the land. People should know about this report.
Commissioner Pemberton stated: The recommendation to have the Legislature provide guidance or clarification regarding the public trust doctrine is what you're referring to. That is a very unique, technical element and I'm not sure what will come of that in the context of rising sea level; how to further clarify what the public trust doctrine means. This is something that we all should be thinking about and expect to be an issue as sea levels rise and that impacts the boundaries between private and state property. This is a big issue that will certainly cause more attention and maybe be addressed probably in the Courts and in the Legislature as we move forward.
Commissioner McElhinney echoed some previous points made: It is excellent being part of the working group and we had a chance to look at a variety of infrastructure issues along the shoreline. We have a great start and we have a great hill to climb.
Today there was a comment that there are over 150 public agencies, federal, state or local, that have land ownership along the Bay. That communication plan whether it's private or public or business is going to be essential as we move forward.
I do want to commend the Chair and the Executive Director for their leadership on the working group. The opportunity to continue on this is excellent.
Chair Wasserman continued: I'm going to make a couple of more comments and we have one speaker card. One of the important pieces that we're going to do with staff in coordination with you and your local jurisdictions is to take the ART toolbox out to local planners at the city and county level primarily to talk about the lessons from ART, how they might apply it; talk about some of the things we have learned and are still learning in terms of our permitting process that may affect or may be useful to fold into their planning issues.
One of the significant debates, which has quieted down now but may come back up is whether things like rising sea level need to be examined in the CEQA context. Some people think that's exactly the right place to do it and others think that because of the problems with CEQA as well as some court decisions, the effect of the environment on projects as opposed to the effect of projects on the environment is not right in a CEQA context.
Whether it's right in CEQA or not, it needs to be addressed. There is no question about this. It needs to be addressed as part of the planning process.
For that purpose as well as a significant piece of broadening those concentric circles in education, this is going to be a very important piece that we do.
We will make sure that you know about it because we want to make sure you have input.
In terms of the broader public campaign, I don't think we're ready quite yet because we need to enlist some more converts to recognize the issue. I had hoped that we might have an opportunity in the November ballot because of the measure that the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority was considering for parcel tax to help expand wetlands and marshlands, I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to do some of this education. There wasn't enough support. This may well come back up in 2016.
There is another measure that may come up in 2016, which we may be able to piggyback on which is to consider flood control districts and storm water issues like other utilities that would affect the way you can impose fees to support it for water, electricity and elsewhere as opposed to the two-thirds vote requirement.
The first real broad public education effort is probably going to have to be tied to a relevant, regional or statewide ballot measure. We also think there may be some opportunities to do some major summit public presentations that will come out of the next stage that are recommended in this report.
Ms. Brooks commented: I want to commend the leadership that Chair Wasserman and the Executive Director are showing and the great commitment of the Commissioners. I see an incredible opening for BCDC to step in and fill such a critical role in the region for educating and bringing to light issues and beginning to steer all of us towards important decision making around priorities and investments around this issue. I want to support the ART Program and hope you will continue to make important contributions to that because I think it's a model for the rest of the country.
Commissioner Adams commented: Yesterday the Regional Planning Committee from ABAG met. We had a pretty lively conversation about resilience and disaster readiness for the short term disasters but also the long-term planning for the slow-moving disaster that is heading our way.
As I'm looking at this plan, I'm seeing a lot of emphasis on planning, education more talking, and I'm thinking about how long it took, 25 years, to get half of a Bay Bridge built at how many dollars; and we may not have 25 years for all of this stuff we have. We have three airports that are going to be impacted. I hope that we're not just doing a lot of talking and educating. I hope that we're also really making some strategic planning on how we're going to shore up those low-lying areas that are important in our infrastructure and our economy in the Bay Area because if 25 years is any indication for half of a bridge, we've got some pretty big challenges ahead.
I also think that we need to make it important to regular folks, people that are taking their kids to Little League and soccer who aren't thinking about this in terms of what how is it that we reach them so that it really becomes a movement.
We're missing an important aspect here on the health consequences of our community; as waters shift, different viruses, different types of diseases that we may not have thought about before. I hope that there can be some more discussions about some of those as well and that we start really having some good planning around what priority infrastructure do we really need to start planning for and working on now.
Commissioner Doherty addressed the Commission: Serving as a climate change policy advisor for the Ocean Protection Council I want to comment on a couple of state initiatives that will be intersecting with the work that BCDC is doing.
The Ocean Protection Council adopted a resolution last month which established a policy directive for incorporating climate risk reduction. This also applies to all projects that are being done with state funds or on state lands.
This policy directive also identifies a number of projects. One of those is working with the coastal zone management agencies on developing a visionary action plan that describes what types of state and federal legislation for this.
It also describes how to have an integrated framework and we are collaborating with the feds, the state and the different regions to develop action plans.
We have this process set up where we're going to be releasing this visionary action plan in conjunction with these state agencies next fall.
There is going to be a significant event happening here in the Bay Area called, The Rising Sea Summit. Very senior state and federal leaders will be presenting. That will be an interesting opportunity to highlight the work that is being done in the Bay Area and the work that is being done on an integrated level in the state.
We are seeing that there is significant interest and actions that are happening. Some important legislation for a sea level rise data base just got signed by the Governor. We will be working with the airports and state agencies in developing a report of who is doing what on sea level rise.
Commissioner Gorin said: I want to thank the ad hoc committee for their work on this and to thank BCDC for your work over the past couple of years, especially the modelling and mapping project that we successfully completed.
It informed my understanding of what is happening in Sonoma County and around the Bay. You will be pleasantly surprised at what Sonoma County is doing with adaptation and restoration with the help of the Sonoma Land Trust and a lot of great agencies granting some wonderful work.
We're not nearly as vulnerable as some of the more urban counties to the south of us. We do recognize that there will be Bay level rise up to Petaluma and up Sonoma Valley for sure. That compounds the issues that we've already experienced with flooding in Sonoma Valley and especially the storm tides. We know that we're vulnerable to that.
One thing that was apparent from the mapping project that we did is the vulnerability of Highway 37. I seem to recall a suggestion that we should abandon that. That was dispelled when Caltrans did a feasibility study that looked at the impact of abandoning Highway 37 and the chaos that would ensue on the Richmond Bridge and the east Bay.
I did attend a Caltrans meeting several weeks ago where they talked about steps forward in evaluating what will happen with Highway 37 recognizing that, yes, we have a congestion problem. Highway 37 is really susceptible to the Bay level rise. We need to look at elevating portions of Highway 37.
The minimum timeframe for elevating, expanding and funding, is ten years. We in Sonoma County would like this to be done yesterday.
I want to reiterate and support your comment about looking at infrastructure. We recognize the timeframe that it takes to plan any major infrastructure project. The more we wait and the more we don't work with Caltrans and the federal government to evaluate that, we're are really going to be suffering economically as well as physically. Your points are well taken from the business and the residential sector.
I think this is a call to action and thank you for your past work.
Commissioner Nelson made a suggestion: One of the challenges to increasing public awareness of the need to plan and take action in preparation for rising tides is the need for an event and action to hook that around.
I want to make a suggestion that as we think about what we want to do to commemorate the Commission's 50th anniversary which will always involve looking backwards, it might be a really nice time to focus on what may be the defining challenge of the next 50 years.
Commissioner Ziegler said: It's good to be a part of this. At EPA there is a lot of consideration about what we should do and how we should participate.
In terms of the key issues, one thing that strikes me as I look at this is that it doesn't do enough justice to conservation and development. I see it more on the development side. I don't see anything about conservation or natural resources or environmental protection. This is where we look towards the private sector to deal with climate change and sea level rise, I can see the perspective of, we have to protect our investments.
It makes a lot of sense to fortify and protect. So where do we get into the natural resources? I'm interested in that. Is that just an optics issue or is it something that we need to pay attention to identify a placeholder for the conservation part.
I do also see that the state is doing a really good job at getting its act together. I wonder if there are opportunities to do more outreach to the federal agencies.
Finally, my question is, what plan is what? This speaks to how much planning we can do and we do need. We had talked about an adaptation plan. I don't see any reference in here to the adaptation plan. I'm not sure if that has been moved to the resilience shoreline program or how the pieces are fitting together.
It is useful to keep coming back to us and showing us the game plan so we can start mirroring it out knowing that it's fluid.
Commissioner Gioia commented: I think those are all really good comments and I think the issue of conservation came up in a couple of contexts.
There was a lot of discussion around conservation in our meeting this morning as pertaining to page 5, 6F, Promoting the Integration of Nature-Based Solutions in Bay Area Resilience Planning.
I think there was some idea to add, where feasible, to that language.
The other areas where we're going to add some language is where it talks about amending some of this and that we are collaborating with land-use planning agencies like the planning commissions, city councils and board of supervisors on appropriate land-use policies without telling them what that is.
This is a collaborative process and there is going to be some language proposed to add about working with local land-use agencies.
I agree with you on the whole issue of adaptation. When are we really going to get this started? When we sat here and approved the Bay Plan Amendment and we punted the issue of developing an adaptation plan to the Joint Policy Committee, that actually hasn't happened. We haven't started a process to formally develop an adaptation plan. We ought to acknowledge here that that is what we are moving towards and we need to start that.
Commissioner Ziegler added: I appreciate those comments and I think that there are others who would do this and for us to consider leading more with nature-based solutions. It would be a joint goal. This looks to be more of an add-on than a primary interest.
Commissioner Gorin commented: We had an earthquake recently and it affected Napa pretty significantly. The interesting effect of the earthquake was that our dry creeks are now flowing.
I'm not seeing any notation of the fact that earthquakes will have an effect on us and how it could potentially affect Bay level rise.
Mr. John Englander addressed the Commission: I travel and talk a lot about sea level rise. Having come here from the Rising Seas Conference in New York last week I want to compliment you, BCDC for its leadership and the working group for the depth and breadth of your concerns.
The dive into this issue is going to get deeper because the water is going to get higher but we're going to have to build upon a base.
I would summarize my encouragement to you along three lines. One is that, this is so profound that it's going to take lots of repetition. This is not going to be a matter of the right conference, the right speaker or the right PR campaign; this is so fundamental that it challenges everything we know just from looking out that window.
This is similar to somebody saying, well, gravity is going to get less the next decade.
That Bay has been there for 8,000 years. There is no way for us to really take into our basic brains the fact that that shoreline is going to change.
I would encourage you to realize that this isn't a one, three or ten year thing and in spite of all of your best efforts, you're going to need to do more. It's going to take more persistence because there is nothing so basic as the shoreline. It's probably the defining feature of the planet.
When our grandkids see the line of the shoreline from space, the line will be different. It doesn't matter what we do with the greenhouse gases anymore. It doesn't matter about conservation unfortunately. There's enough extra heat already trapped in the ocean that even as suggested by several people here, sea level is going to rise and it's going to rise more than we think.
The three feet has been echoed many places now. Thinking three feet for sea level rise is really a good idea for a couple of reasons.
It gets around this notion that we can be specific like 11 inches plus or minus four which is what the National Research Council says. That is way too specific and misses the elephant in the room.
I addressed the Board of Commissioners of the Port of San Francisco in this room. I respectfully said that the City's committee about sea level rise has done a very thorough job in their guidance document. And if they said that as of this date they should plan by 2050 for 11 inches plus or minus four, I think I said that was as good a number as any.
Here are the two things that you should remember. The projections for sea level rise get raised every two or three years. It's been happening for 20 years. There is no reason to believe that that is going to stop.
Quite to the contrary, the recent scientific studies this year from west Antarctica show that the melting of the Pine Island Glaciers is accelerating. And that's the elephant in the room that is not included in the 11 inches plus or minus four. This can only account for another 120 inches.
Here is what I would suggest to you. We've got to repeat this, repeat this, repeat this and then repeat this and keep it simple. Sea level is going to rise. It's unstoppable and we need to plan for the first three feet which gives us two messages.
One, we can't get it down to inches. We don't know what year it's going to happen and it's the first three feet. We have now locked ten, twenty or thirty feet sometime in the next few centuries.
I sat here three weeks ago at the Urban Land Institute Conference about resilient cities and even at New York at the Rising Seas Summit last week, and even amongst people who are dealing with this I watched them lapse into confusing sea level rise with storm surge. I couldn't believe it.
This is so fundamental that it's going to take all of us thinking about this. Don't think you're going to solve this next year.
The other thing is that, we need to work now because 25 years goes by pretty quickly. I wouldn't be so concerned about sea level rise in the next 25 years. The king tides and the storms are all the reasons in the world to worry about the shoreline. You're not going to get much sea level rise in the next 25 years. The king tides are the harbinger of long-term sea level rise.
In the second half of this century you may not get three feet, you may get six or nine feet. So we need to think bigger. That is what I said to the Port of San Francisco.
If you want to plan for 11 inches plus or minus four by 2050, fine. But if you want to do something so that a hundred years from now the things that you set the foundations for will be useful and still have some freeboard, think bigger.
When you plan for the Embarcadero, think bigger. The nice thing is you don't have to pay for it now. You don't need the money. You need the plan. And you need to realize that for the first time in human civilization that sea level is going to be higher. Sea level was last higher 120,000 years ago. It got 25 feet higher back then. We're going to go past that.
So, let's think bigger. And I think you're marshalling the forces, resources and the multi-sector involvement because this is the biggest thing that is going to happen to this planet. And you're not going to set the plan by November of December but you're starting. I'm here voluntarily because I enjoy the energy and the focus that happens out here.
Plan for higher particularly in the second half of the century and it will take time. There is no time to waste but let's think bigger. It will take BCDC and the private sector - they will start to act in their own self-interest. And it will take municipal functions like the Port of San Francisco to accomplish this.
Commissioner Doherty commented: Thank you for being here. The state has a sea level guidance document that has a range of sea level rise by different dates. The state is doing the fourth climate assessment and there is a few million dollars of funding that is going into different projects, some of which will provide information that might help the Bay Area for doing planning.
We have been getting some alarming new information about sea level rise. We have a process in place with the Science Advisory Committee to review the reports coming out and update the sea level rise guidance document.
Ms. Caitlin Sweeney spoke: It's my pleasure today to speak in support of the Commissioners' Working Group Action Plan and specifically regarding the Shoreline Resilience Program. For the past year I have been working with your staff and the staff of the Coastal Conservancy and the Joint Policy Committee on the collaborative shoreline resilience partnership.
This is an important effort that emerged from the identification of a need and an opportunity to help advance the region's ability to take action to respond to climate change.
Despite the lack of dedicated funding for this effort, with the support and leadership of the agency directors we've actually made great progress in our efforts to assess regional flood risks management capacities and to identify shoreline flood risks vulnerabilities and potential consequences.
We are all extremely motivated and committed to this partnership. It's clear that the long-term success of this partnership will be contingent upon additional future resources. I thank the Commissioners' Working Group for recognizing the importance of this partnership as well as the critical need to focus more resources on it.
Chair Wasserman commented: I have often spoken of this as a five to ten year campaign. Hopefully, at the end of the campaign we will have a very specific set of actions including infrastructure actions. Some actions have been in play for some time; the Napa Creek Project, what Dave Pine described is going on and what San Francisco Airport has been doing, the San Francisquito Creek Project. So, there are concrete things that are going on, none of that is waiting for these studies or plans.
And in that five to ten year concept I would argue we are about two years into that process. This report does talk a little bit more about talking, educating and planning but that's the reality of the area or position that we are in right now. It's not that this is all we're going to do.
What I'm going to propose as actions is that we put in the amendments and reflect some of the comments. I think the conservation piece is woven into much of this but if you're reacting that way it may not be explicit enough. The resilience program here is the beginning of the adaptation plan. I hope at our next meeting to talk about a very specific way to encourage some concrete thought about this area.
We'll bring this back for action at the next meeting. I am going to appoint the Bay Fill Committee, which Barry Nelson has agreed to chair and Jim McGrath, Sean Randolph, Jason Brush from EPA and Jane Hicks will serve on. We do expect that this committee will probably have some formal advisory groups bringing in experts and some of the practitioners, the ports and others that will be part of those efforts.
We absolutely expect to bring this back periodically and frequently for additional input as well as to report progress along the way.
Executive Director Goldzband commented: At the Working Group meeting this morning we went through it and here is the master. We have a number of amendments and thoughts on that we will include. If you have specific thoughts please email them to me. We will work this upcoming week to incorporate them into a final draft that would then be circulated a week from tomorrow to the public for consideration at the next meeting, which is two weeks from today at MetroCenter.
Two things that I want to make sure that people know, we will begin this fall to actively figure out and actually produce what will be a roadmap. There is a lot going on. We are doing a lot of stuff and other people are doing a lot of stuff. If we want to develop a regional resilience plan for the Bay Area, we need to make sure that there is a confluence so we can then use all of that information to create that regional resilience strategy.
My gut tells me that during the next calendar year, through the end of 2015 with the Bay Fills Working Group, with what the JPC is doing, with what the Kresge Foundation is doing and so on, you will see an awful lot more in about 12 to 15 months which I hope will allow us to start forming that strategy in a formal way.
Chair Wasserman continued the meeting: Since we've postponed Item 12, I would ask for a motion to adjourn.
12. Commissioner Briefing on the Middle Harbor Enhancement Project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Oakland in the City of Oakland, Alameda County; BCDC Consistency Determination No. C2000.014 and Permit No. 2000.014.00. (Item 12 was postponed for a future meeting.)
13. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Adams, seconded by Commissioner Zwissler, the meeting was adjourned at 2:38 p.m.
LAWRENCE J. GOLDZBAND
Approved, as corrected, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of October 16, 2014.
R. ZACHARY WASSERMAN, Chair