Minutes of October 16, 2014 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 1:28 p.m. Since there wasn’t a quorum present, Chair Wasserman announced that they would start with the informational non-action items until enough Commissioners were present to make a Quorum.
2. Roll Call. Present were: Chair Wasserman, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Addiego, Apodaca, Bates, Chan (represented by Alternate Gilmore), Chiu, Gioia, Gorin, Lucchesi (represented by Alternate Pemberton), McGrath, Nelson (represented by Alternate Ranchod), Sartipi (represented by Alternate McElhinney), Vierra (represented by Alternate Doherty), and Ziegler. Katerina Galacatos was also present.
Not present were: Santa Clara County (Cortese), Department of Finance (Finn), Alameda County (Gibbs), Governor’s Appointees (Jordan Hallinan , Randolph and Zwissler), San Mateo County (Pine), Marin County (Sears), Solano County (Spering), Association of Bay Area Governments (Techel), and Napa County (Wagenknecht).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Wasserman called for public comment on subjects that were not on the agenda. There were no public speakers present to comment.
Chair Wasserman moved to Approval of the Minutes.
4. Approval of Minutes of the October 2, 2014 Meeting. Chair Wasserman asked for a motion and a second to adopt the minutes of October 2, 2014.
Commissioner Doherty commented: The name of the upcoming conference is, Sea Level Rise Summit. It was recorded wrong in the minutes. The minutes reported it as, The Rising Sea is Coming.
MOTION: Commissioner Addiego moved, seconded by Commissioner Doherty, to approve the October 2, 2014 Minutes, as corrected. The motion carried by a voice vote.
5. Report of the Chair. Chair Wasserman reported on the following:
a. New Business. Does anyone have any new business they would like us to put on a future agenda? There are none now but you can always contact Larry or me to do that afterwards.
You may recall that at the last meeting I asked for volunteers to assist with our 50th anniversary. Commissioners Halsted and Wagenknecht have agreed to help. If anyone would like to join us in that, I would very much appreciate it. We do expect to have a meeting sometime in the next two weeks.
b. Next BCDC Meeting. Our next meeting will be held November 6th at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. At that Commission meeting we expect to take up the following matters:
(1) We expect to take up a public hearing on the Blu Harbor Development Proposal at the former Pete’s Harbor in Redwood City.
(2) We will have a briefing on the status of the Middle Harbor Enhancement Project at the Port of Oakland. I will turn to ex-parte after the Executive Director’s Report. I now want to note that we have a new ally in the campaign to figure out how we’re going to adapt to rising sea level and that’s the United States Department of Defense. They have issued a report that climate change including rising sea level is, in fact, one of the major security threats to this country. This means we’ve got some additional resources. They have been looking at this issue for some time. This report is heartening in that more and more organizations with additional resources are taking note and we appreciate that. With that, I will turn it over to the Executive Director.
c. Ex-Parte Communications. That completes my report. In case you have inadvertently forgotten to provide our staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications, I invite Commissioners who have engaged in any such communications to report on them at this point.
6. Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Goldzband reported:
You’ll remember that two weeks ago I talked about how the Department of Finance has asked us a series of questions in furtherance to our budget proposal for next year; we ended up providing to Finance, eight pages of very elegant prose last week. It answered some provocative questions. If we hear anything more from them you will know.
Speaking of the unexpected, and under the heading of Great Bureaucratic Risk Taking, BCDC is one of a number of state agencies whose accounting processes are being switched from a decades-old system called CalStars to a new Captain Whizbang system called “FisCAL.” For both all the right reasons and due to some glitches, BCDC now must use both systems simultaneously – at least until all of FisCAL’s bugs are fixed. Therefore, we have asked our former chief accountant, Sabrina Shiu, to come back as a retired annuitant to assist our current chief accountant, Sebastian Sandoval, as he transfers everything over to the new system in hopes that they work.
You will remember that we are using a portion of our increased funding this year to start a vulnerability assessment and ART program along the northern Contra Costa County waterfront. I’m pleased to report that Margaux Ngyuen has accepted a one-year limited term position in our planning section to work on that project, among other duties. Margaux earned her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. For the past few years Margaux has worked in various New York State and City environmental agencies (Ms. Ngyuen stood and was recognized) and she has considerable private sector experience as well. We’ll get her on board quickly unless any Commissioners object (no objections were heard).
We have a new crop of talented legal interns to promote John Bowers’ continuing quest to populate the land use portion of the California Bar with former BCDC interns. Jonathan Kara (Mr. Kara stood and was recognized) is a third-year law student at Golden Gate University Law School who has interned with the San Francisco City Attorney's Office twice. He earned his undergraduate degree from Cal State, East Bay. Gabriel Monroe (Mr. Monroe stood and was recognized) earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell University and is awaiting the results of the California bar exam. Gabriel has interned at Earthjustice here and at Our Children's Trust in Eugene, Oregon, where he worked on a national climate change litigation program. Gabriel has worked as a journalist and is fluent in Mandarin.
Steve Goldbeck was in New York late last week to attend the initial organizational meeting of the new National Coastal Alliance, an outgrowth of the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure. I’d like Steve to take a couple minutes to let you all know of the Alliance’s purpose and future actions.
Mr. Goldbeck reported the following: NICHI is a non-profit that was established to advocate for a greater federal role in coastal climate change adaptation and replacing aged coastal infrastructure, particularly for ports and harbors.
It was established by William Golden who, as a town solicitor, brought the lawsuit that started the cleanup of the Boston Harbor and then served for six years in the Massachusetts Senate. He has been the moving force to try to get folks organized around this issue.
The meeting was held to present and discuss the proposal to initiate a National Coastal Alliance as a combined voice of coastal communities to try to support the NICHI agenda.
The NICHI agenda is to change federal policies to better support adaptation for the coastal areas, establish a single federal agency leadership over the issue and to provide new dedicated federal funds.
The meeting was to discuss the work that local community members were doing on this topic and also to discuss the proposal that NICHI has brought forward. There were reps there from Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, New York City and I was there from the West Coast.
No commitments were made or asked for at the meeting. NICHI is going to go back and refine the proposal and bring it forward. When they do this we will bring it to you for your consideration in whether you want to participate.
Executive Director Goldzband continued: We will hope that actually grows and we can make it a national situation.
Autumn is energy season here at BCDC. In addition to the permit application for PG&E that we hope to consider today, we received notice last month that a runaway vessel’s anchor snapped the 53-mile-long electric cable that runs between Pittsburg and San Francisco. BCDC granted a permit for the 400mw cable in 2006, but now it’s out of service. Its owner, Transbay Cable, hopes to begin repair work this week so that the cable can be back in service by December. After splicing it and extending it by about eighty feet, Transbay will bury most of it below the Bay floor. Where it’s not buried it will be protected by concrete sections, known as mattresses, to prevent the cable from being damaged again.
Emergency permits must be approved by both the Chair and the Executive Director and we shall consider such a permit after Transbay receives approval from all other appropriate agencies, including the regional water board. At some point next year, the Commission likely will review an amendment to the current Transbay permit that will require a full analysis of this fill and likely require mitigation for it, as well as for other protective mattresses that Transbay has used since it received its permit in 2006.
You have four separate articles and memos in front of you to which I want to draw your attention. The first is an obituary of a gentleman named Michael Harris who, as an enterprising journalist, dramatically altered the way the governments work in California. In 1952, Harris wrote a series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle that detailed how a wide variety of government entities made decisions in private and evaded public scrutiny. A young Assembly Member named Ralph M. Brown from Modesto read the series and was inspired to introduce what has come to be known as The Brown Act, California’s first “sunshine” law, which was enacted in 1953. Brown asked Mr. Harris, the journalist, to write the preface to the legislation. Two interesting historical notes – first, Ralph Brown became Speaker of the Assembly in 1959 and then resigned his seat to become a justice on the California Court of Appeals. He was succeeded as Speaker by Jesse Unruh. Second, I should note that Mr. Harris, by then a former journalist, became a member of the Sausalito City Council in the mid-1990s. So he had the opportunity to work under the law that he actually inspired.
Next is something tremendously important and related. Each Commissioner and Alternate is responsible for providing the Commission and the public with a notice if he or she participates in an ex-parte communication. Many of you will remember from our discussions about ex-parte regulations a couple years ago that BCDC’s regulations are confusing. However, I am sure that you will remember that an ex-parte communication is a communication whose subject is a “pending adjudicatory proceeding.” Discussions about policy issues such as state or federal legislation are not subject to ex- parte rules. It has been customary, and we will continue the practice, for BCDC Commissioners to report on ex-parte conversations when asked by the Chair for such a report during his or her report. However, BCDC regulations require Commissioners to disclose such communications in writing. We have not enforced this requirement as stringently as we should.
Therefore, you will see a memo from John Bowers and me reminding you of the regulations. On the next page you will see the November 2012 memo reminding you of the regulations and then the third page is actually the form that you are to fill out and provide to Reggie Abad of BCDC’s staff, either by mail or electronically. The memoranda will be kept in a secure place at BCDC and will be made available at the appropriate time on the public record. And if you say you had an ex-parte communication, we will hand you at this meeting or whatever meeting, a copy of the form so you can fill it out.
Third, I want to draw your attention to the next piece of paper – especially all of our locally elected officials. The California Coastal Conservancy has announced its next round of Climate Ready grant-making. We certainly hope you will all apply for them and BCDC is happy to help you with them.
Finally, speaking of the Giants, I have included a New York Times article about them; and you ask, why? It is because the article is about AT&T Park as a venue and how the Giants included public access in its design. The article actually mentions BCDC (although they name us incorrectly), and says that we are “one of the state agencies that place stringent requirements for building along the water.”
I do need your attention one more time. I am going to channel the late Senator Joe McCarthy who knew nothing of ethics. I have in my hand the list of Commissioners and Alternates who have not yet completed the state-mandated ethics requirement. Last week, I contacted each person who had not completed it. I will talk to each of you today who is on the list to make sure you recognize how important it is that you complete your ethics training, preferably prior to November 6th. Iris Murdoch once said that we all live in a fantasy world and our great task is to identify reality. This list, Mr.Chairman, is reality. Please make sure that you complete your training.
Chair Wasserman added: On the 6th we will read the names. Thank you very much and are there any questions for the Executive Director? Seeing none, I will discuss a couple of items.
One, I want to welcome Katarina Galacatos as the Alternate for Jane Hicks from the Army Corps. Welcome.
Second, I want to touch again on the ex-parte communications. The purpose of doing this is so that members of the public who are here when permit matters, adjudicatory matters are being heard, can know that there have been other communications. An important part of the form is the box for the subject matter. There should be some substance there that refers to the communications so that the public knows the general nature or subject matter of what has been communicated to you outside the public hearing.
In that regard, is there anybody who wishes to ask for a form right now to fill out on an ex-parte communication they may have received since the last meeting on an adjudicatory matter? (No responses were received)
I will now ask Sharon Louie to call the roll.
Ms. Louie announced that a quorum was present.
7. Consideration of Administrative Matters. Chair Wasserman stated: Brad McCrea is here if Commissioners have any questions or concern on this item. (No comments were received)
Chair Wasserman continued: Larry and I talked to you two weeks ago that as part of the lead up to the 50th Anniversary celebrations we’re going to try to have some history lessons about BCDC. We’re going to start today with David Lewis from Save the Bay. We want to show a brief clip from BCDC’s favorite television show – “Saving the Bay,” created by Ron Blatman. A short clip was shown to the attendees.
Chair Wasserman continued the meeting: That clip is both humbling and inspiring. We had asked Sylvia McLaughlin to make an appearance here today. She was not able to come but her daughter did send in a letter that I would like to read into the record and it will be available on our website.
(The letter was read into the record)
Commissioner Gioia commented: I see in our work now the same urgency about sea level rise. This truly is a regional issue and it is not an issue that every city and every county can address individually but has to be done collectively.
This strikes a chord as we continue with the new responsibilities we have.
Commissioner Bates added: Those three frisky women kept me motivated when the Berkeley City Council was going to build new housing down on the waterfront. That started the whole movement and we are really indebted to them.
I lived during that time of the Bay. I was actually in college. There was one person who never really gets recognized but this person was probably as responsible for the establishment of BCDC as anybody; and that was Don Sherwood who had a radio program on KSFO that had a listening audience of about 90 percent of all of the Bay Area. He talked about this issue and he was hammering away at this issue. He was the one who turned the political climate around. Without Don Sherwood we probably would not have BCDC today.
Executive Director Goldzband stated: It is ironic that the East Shore State Park, which is where those houses would have gone, was last year renamed the Sylvia McLaughlin East Shore State Park. The Chair and I along with Mayor Bates were proud to be there when that was done.
When we meet next we will have Joe Bodovitz as a guest, the first ED of BCDC who wants to tell you about all the things that probably should have happened, probably could have happened to destroy BCDC in its formative years but didn’t.
Chair Wasserman commented: This again demonstrates that preservation is a team effort. We will now move to Item 8.
8. Public Hearing and Possible Vote on Permit Application No. 2014.003.00 on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Proposal to Install a Submarine Transmission Cable and Ancillary Features, in the City and County of San Francisco. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 8 is a public hearing and possible vote on a PG&E application for a submarine transmission cable. Jaime Michaels will make the staff presentation.
Ms. Michaels presented the following: On October 3rd, you were mailed the summary of an application to install a two and a half mile long section of a transmission cable in the vicinity of the San Francisco Waterfront in the Commission’s Bay one and hundred foot shoreline band jurisdiction.
The cable would improve reliability of electric service to the City of San Francisco provided by PG&E, the permit applicant.
The proposed cable is a single, high-voltage circuit made of three individual lines to be installed using horizontal directional drilling, HDD technology, and a hydro-plow.
The construction techniques would allow the cable to be installed underground and mostly under the Bay floor. Where conditions limit cable burial under the Bay floor, 550 cubic yards of concrete mattresses would be placed to protect the cable from damage and from movement.
The project also involves removal of 1,300 cubic yards of sediment related to installation with disposal happening outside of the Bay.
Along the aquatic cable alignment 2,900 cubic yards of sandstone rubble and similar rock is proposed for removal to facilitate cable installation.
All facilities are proposed for maintenance over the life of the project.
PG&E did not propose removal of the cable system when it’s no longer in use.
Within the shoreline band the project involves the installation of a cable section entirely underground and also construction activities which will take place over the 22 month construction period.
As proposed, the work would not disrupt public access or permanently alter Bay views.
There are two project details that are in the Summary that I would like to correct. One is on page two, paragraph one. I want to correct it to reflect that the HDD entry point of the cable at the project’s southern boundary would be on 23rd Street and not on Illinois Street. This is outside of your jurisdiction. The second thing that I’d like to correct is also on page two, paragraph three. The proposed cable would emerge into the Bay through HDD corridors at about 1,000 feet offshore and not 1,800 and 800 feet offshore as it’s stated in the staff summary.
Page four of the summary identifies proposed fill quantities. The project would result in a net increase of approximately 29,000 square foot area of exposed Bay floor that’s currently covered with rock.
At the time of the mailing as it’s discussed on page ten, the Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a certification for the project that stated: the placement of concrete mattresses would result in a permanent impact and require compensatory mitigation.
Since that time, the Board has determined that the mattresses would be adequately mitigated by the removal of the 2,900 cubic yards of rock and no further mitigation is required.
The Dredged Material Management Office has already reviewed the project and the sediment removed is proposed for disposal outside of the Bay.
Further, the project would be carried out in a manner that complies with the work window restrictions for fish species.
Additionally, the project location and operational procedures were selected to avoid shipping channels and designated anchoring sites to ensure safe navigation.
In reviewing the proposed project, the staff summary asks you to consider whether it would be consistent with the McAteer-Petris Act and various policies of the Bay Plan and whether the impacts associated with the fill had been minimized and adequately mitigated; whether the project is consistent with your dredging policies; whether the project is designed to protect and maintain navigational safety; and lastly, whether the improvements should ultimately be removed from the Bay when the project is no longer in use.
And with that I would like to introduce Bob Donovan from PG&E who will present the project and answer your questions.
Mr. Donovan addressed the Commission: I have been working on this project for the past several years. I’m a senior environmental planner at PG&E. I brought my team of experts to answer any of your questions.
I will present to you why we are doing the project, what the project entails in general and then go into a little more detail in the aspects of the project that are occurring in and around San Francisco Bay.
We are trying to bring the new third cable into the Embarcadero Substation. This substation currently serves North Beach, China Town, south of Market, the Financial District, and it is a very critical load for us.
This substation is currently being served by two aging high-voltage cables that currently go from South San Francisco in a highly liquefiable area. In a large event we’re concerned that those two cables would be lost for a prolonged period of time.
The idea of this project is to bring a third more reliable cable that would keep the lights on if we did have a major event.
The City of San Francisco has considered this a key lifeline project for their planning efforts. Our CEO is committed to the Mayor of San Francisco to get this project completed by the end of 2015.
We’re bringing a cable from the Potrero Substation in the south approximately three and a half miles up to the Embarcadero Substation in the north.
The cable will be installed in city streets in duct banks. The submarine cable will be installed six to ten feet below the Bay surface.
In the north, we will have three exit pits and there are three phases that make up one circuit. There will also be three pits in the south.
In the north there may be some areas where we don’t get proper coverage, which is six to ten feet of Bay bottom. We plan to put in some concrete mattresses to protect the cable.
The schedule is a critical aspect of the project. We’re hoping for Commission approval today. We are going to start with the transition horizontal directional drilling. This is critical for us because there are environmental work windows on this project.
We’re not allowed to work in the Bay between December 1 and June 1, without a waiver. We need to get all those conduits in this year. We need to start immediately.
Once we have the conduits in, we will begin installing the submarine cable in June of 2015 and complete that work by September of 2015, and then finish our land transitions, splice into the existing substations, and do our testing so we can be online by the end of 2015.
A typical exit pit is six feet deep so it will keep the conduit at the level we want it to be. It is also a place for the drilling muds to sit on the bottom of the Bay because they are heavier than the water and we can use an airlift to get those muds out.
The first thing we will do is to remove the rocks located just off of Pier 50 so the hydro-plow can get to the proper depth. We will then come back in June and install the cables through the conduit and use the hydro-plow to install the cable between six and ten feet down to the south conduit. Once we get to the south conduit we will pull the cable through that and we will have our submarine cable installed. At that point we will look at where we did not get proper coverage and we will put the concrete mattresses in those locations to make sure that it’s properly protected.
We will temporarily fluidize the sediment at the six to ten foot depth to allow us to place the cable properly.
Barges will carry the cable for us to install. Hydro-plows will also be carried to the locations in this manner.
We got a CPUC, CPCN at the beginning of this year and a mitigating negative declaration was issued in October of 2013. We received our Army Corps 404 and Section 10 permits and our DMMO approvals including for all upland disposal of our dredged material. Our 401 certification, we’ve consulted with National Marine Fisheries Service and they’ve issued, a Not-Likely-to-Adversely-Affect Letter and we’ve been working closely with CA Fish and Wildlife as well.
The Port is a big player in this project. We had to get a license from them as well as construction permits for work in their jurisdiction.
And lastly we have the BCDC permits. This is the last regulatory approval that we need.
There are no eelgrass beds, shellfish or wetlands along the route. It’s minimal dredging just for the pits and for the rock removal. NMFS has issued a, Not-Likely-To-Adversely-Affect Letter on the project and we’ve gotten approval from CA Fish and Wildlife for our fish screens.
The rock removal will actually offset the concrete mattresses by quite a bit. There is over two times as much rock removal as concrete mattresses going in.
Last but not least is the extensive environmental compliance and monitoring plan we have now. We have third-party monitors. The CPUC goes out there and monitors weekly and we have monitors out there daily watching the project. It is going to be a tight project.
We are in conformance with the San Francisco Bay Plan. We’ve minimized our impacts to the extent possible. There is no return water, upland disposal, and it is consistent with the Bay Plan dredging policies. There is no impact to navigational safety. All our locations will be on the NOAA maps. And we have facility removal after the life of the project so we’ve committed to the City of San Francisco where we have a 40 year license with a 26 year renewal option. They can choose to have us remove the facility or they can take it over or we can renew at the end of the term. After 66 years we can remove it if they request it.
In summary, this is a critical lifeline project for San Francisco in the event of a major seismic event or the other issue is if there’s any other reason we lose one of those cables then all of downtown will be served by one cable which is unacceptable. We need to get this third line in.
All resource agency approvals have been received and the environmental impacts have been minimized and mitigated.
The scheduling sequence requires us to start work right away so we can get these transition bores done this year and be ready for the work to get it finished next year.
We have reviewed the staff report and we agree with the recommendation in the report. We request your approval today.
Chair Wasserman continued: That concludes the staff report. We will open the public hearing. Is there anybody in the audience who would like to speak? (No speakers came forth) That concludes the public hearing. I would take a motion to close the public hearing.
MOTION: Commissioner Chiu moved to close the public hearing, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted. The motion carried by a voice vote with no abstentions or objections.
Chair Wasserman asked: Do the Commissioners have any questions or comments?
Commissioner Ranchod spoke: This is certainly an important project. I’m curious on the timing of the project. It sounds like you commenced the regulatory process about one year ago?
Mr. Donovan responded: Well no, it was before that. The CPUC is the lead agency on this project. We submitted that back in 2012.
Commissioner Ranchod continued: The risk of a major quake disrupting electric service in San Francisco is not new. The risk is even higher than understood. Is there a reason that this sort of project wasn’t proposed even sooner than in 2012?
Mr. Donovan answered: I’m not sure on the history of why it wasn’t. I know we currently have two cables serving so they are redundant. Historically, they probably thought that we had redundancy and that’s all we needed. San Francisco and PG&E in the last several years have been trying to beef up for this; a 7.8 quake is what everyone is looking at now.
Commissioner Ranchod further inquired: About a year and a half ago there was an attack on PG&E’s Metcalf Substation that highlighted the physical vulnerability of our electric grid, in particular, transmission substations. Can you comment on how PG&E is going to ensure that transmission substations for this project are going to be secure?
Mr. Donovan responded: This is a big issue for PG&E. The seismic event is the big one but the other one is a terrorist attack. There are other unforeseen events that we are planning for with this project.
PG&E also in regards to the Potrero Switchyard is currently undergoing a security fence. We are looking at all the substations. This has been a high priority for PG&E.
The Embarcadero side is fully enclosed. Metcalf was very calculatedly shot out.
Chair Wasserman asked: Any other questions or comments? Commissioner Chiu commented: I want to thank all the parties who have been involved, particularly all the City departments, the Port and PG&E. This is something very critical to San Francisco as well as all my constituents. We are all anxious to see it move forward. I am happy at the appropriate time to move for a vote on this.
Ms. Michaels made the staff recommendation: On October 10th, we mailed the staff report recommending you authorize the proposed project. The staff recommendation contains several special conditions that require PG&E to do the following: One is to comply with the seasonal work windows which means they won’t be able to work between June and November 30th unless a waiver is received from the resource agencies. Two is, to install fish screens on their hydro-plow equipment. Three is to remove sandstone and rock from the site to mitigate for the fill associated with putting the mattresses in place. Another condition is to provide pre- and post- dredging information to our staff to assure that the project is consistent with the DMMO’s recommendations. The sediment is also required to go upland.
There also will be a condition to coordinate the project with the Coast Guard and NOAA to make sure that vessel traffic safety is ensured.
Lastly, PG&E will be required to prepare a report upon decommissioning of the facility to let us know whether or not it should be removed at the end of its useful life.
With these conditions the staff believes that the project adequately addresses the issues raised and is consistent with your laws and policies on fill, other uses of the Bay and shoreline, sub-tidal areas, fish, other aquatic organisms and wildlife, water quality, mitigation dredging and navigational safety. We recommend that you adopt the staff recommendation.
Chair Wasserman inquired: PG&E, have you read the recommendation and do you agree with it?
Mr. Donovan responded: Yes we have, and we do.
Chair Wasserman continued: I will entertain a motion to approve.
MOTION: Commissioner Chiu moved approval of the staff recommendation, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 14-0-0 with Commissioners Addiego, Apodaca, Bates, Gilmore, Chiu, Gioia, Gorin, Pemberton, McGrath, Ranchod, McElhinny, Doherty, Vice Chair Halsted and Chair Wasserman voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.
Chair Wasserman stated: It is approved. I would like to take Item 10 before we lose a quorum.
10. Commission Consideration of a Report and Recommendation of the Commissioner Working Group on Rising Sea Level. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 10 is continued consideration and vote on the Commissioner Working Group’s report and recommendations to further develop BCDC’s rising sea level adaptation policies. We discussed this extensively at our October 2nd meeting and there were a number of changes proposed just before and during that meeting. Those changes have been incorporated. Executive Director Goldzband will introduce the topic. Hopefully, we can have a vote on this.
Executive Director Goldzband presented the following: Two weeks ago there was a very vibrant and tremendous discussion about the draft report. Staff took note of approximately 8 to 10 significant and some not-significant changes to the draft. We sent out the revised draft in final last Friday after review from Chair Wasserman.
I want to take you through this for just a second. You will note that a couple of things that I will highlight. Number one, we didn’t really change anything in terms of organization. The two biggest changes that we made was, first, to acknowledge Commissioner Nelson and Commissioner Ziegler because they made sure that we put in a little more verbiage with regards to risks to natural resources and made sure that we actively talked about both natural infrastructure and its use as a way to create marshland and to work with the flood control system.
If Commissioner Nelson were here today he would say, yes, this actually works. I can’t say that because he’s not here.
The second thing is, if you take a look at the proposed action plan which is Section 3, starting on page four; if you go down to the shoreline resilience program form the Climate Readiness Institute it’s so happens that we have had meetings over the past two weeks on both of those issues. We believe that now more than ever having a real working relationship that is very positive and very action-oriented with the rest of the Joint Policy Committee and the State Coastal Conservancy and U.C. Berkeley, Davis, Stanford and Lawrence Berkeley Labs is tremendously important. We will make sure that this continues to occur.
Staff certainly recommends approval.
Chair Wasserman opened the floor to questions: Any questions or comments?
Commissioner McElhinney commented: As a member of the working group I’d like to say a few words. I was very impressed by the dedication and the talent and the mission-orientation of the working group. We heard from a variety of stakeholders both public and private. It was really quite informative. I think we have made great progress thanks to the BCDC staff and the working group and the overall Commission’s mission. The world is watching us as BCDC. We’ve got a long way to go. I want to thank the Chair and the Executive Director for their work in support of the working group.
I am looking forward to moving ahead on that resilient shorelines program with the JPC and the Bay Fill Working Group. It’s an exciting opportunity to be here and ready to vote on the recommendation.
Vice Halsted commented: I want to thank all of you who have worked so diligently and gotten to this point and I look forward to the next steps. This is really very important and significant and thoughtful.
Commissioner Ziegler added: In Commissioner Nelson’s absence I would like to say, yes, this works. It’s very thoughtful and it works very well overall.
Chair Wasserman continued: I want to thank you all and there were some concerns expressed at the last hearing that whether this was really an action plan. I want to assure everybody, this is action.
Some of it is outreach to the public. It’s absolutely necessary to accomplish what we need to accomplish and there’s still some study that needs to be done. This is intended to, one, be an action plan and we will make sure that it is such. And two, this is not going on the shelf. You will see and hear from this possibly more than you want to but I assure you we’re going to hear a lot about this in future meetings.
With that I would entertain a motion for approval.
MOTION: Commissioner Gioia moved approval of the staff recommendation, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted. The motion passed by a voice vote with no abstentions or opposition.
Chair Wasserman moved to Item 9.
9. Briefing by the Port of San Francisco on the Waterfront Land Use Plan 1997-2014 Review. Chair Wasserman announced: Item 9 is a report from the San Francisco Port on the Waterfront Land Use Plan. Lindy Lowe will introduce the topic.
Ms. Lowe presented the following: We asked the Port to come to the Commission to give you a brief presentation on their 17-year review of their Waterfront Land Use Plan. In order to put their Waterfront Land Use Plan into context for the Commission, it is their corollary to our San Francisco Waterfront Special Area Plan. The two plans need to be consistent with one another.
As the Commission is aware we’ve been working very closely with the Port over the last five or so years on amendments to allow projects like the Exploratorium and the Cruise Ship Terminal we have been working through the issues raised in amending the Special Area Plan. It’s of particular note that the Port is looking for these projects in this kind of detail at their Waterfront Land Use Plan and asking us to participate more closely with its implementation. I’m going to turn it over to Diane Oshima of the Port.
Ms. Oshima addressed the Commission: I am with the Port’s Planning and Development Division and the presentation will be shared with my colleague Brad Benson. I will try to keep this informative but brief.
We are trying to provide the general public and our partners with an overview of what has happened and what has transformed along the San Francisco Waterfront.
The partnerships in particular with BCDC have been extraordinary. This simply would not have happened without the broad and deep partnership between our Commissions but also of our staff on the planning and the regulatory side. Hopefully this is something that will give us good food for thought because what we’re really looking for is public input about how we move forward.
There has been a diversity of activities that has taken place in the last 17 years along the waterfront under the Waterfront Land Use Plan. We’ve got a lot of diverse ways in which our shared missions of maritime public access and vibrant publicly-oriented activities have taken shape.
Core to the Port of San Francisco is maritime uses. A lot of times that is lost in the fold because there are so many other entertainment and commercial and public activities that take place.
San Francisco actually has the most diverse maritime portfolio probably in the nation. We’ve got at least 10 discreet maritime and water-dependent industries and uses. Our general approach in how we try to improve the waterfront is to make sure that we are keeping an eye on each one of them, the uses and the operating conditions that are needed to make them successful but to also integrate them with a cluster of open space and publicly-oriented uses that can enable the maritime function to move forward but also highlight that diversity for the public to gain a better understanding.
In terms of water-oriented uses, a lot of our focus now is really going into water recreation as well. The America’s Cup Event really highlighted that.
The reason that we are undergoing this self-assessment here is because under our Master Plan, the Waterfront Land Use Plan which extends over the full seven and a half miles of the Port’s waterfront from Fisherman’s Wharf down to almost Hunter’s Point Shipyard is that we have to do a five year review. This time around Director Monique Moyer asked us to take a look all the way
back to the beginning of the plan. It’s 17 years old and our partnership with BCDC and the alignment of the policies under your Special Area Plan have been in place since the year 2000. We wanted for the public new-timers and old-timers alike to have the breadth of this information not just to look at what has happened in the past but to understand it so that when we look forward we can be informed about what worked, what didn’t, what’s missing and how can we work together to make that better.
We decided to use images to show you what the waterfront looked like 17 years ago. By working in conjunction with BCDC we were able to address some of our open-space plan objectives to create a necklace of public open spaces that are connected within walkable distances. This also has taken place down in the South Beach area with the Brannan Street Wharf Project.
We try to look for a diversity of activities and the success of the Exploratorium to create a place for children and families along with tourists and visitors and locals was a really big deal for the Port and for BCDC as well.
In addition, each of these development projects are really couched with trying to focus on saving our historic resources along the Embarcadero Historic District Waterfront, Pier 15, 17 in this case and it terms of the maritime benefit that came out of it, Bay Delta Tug and Tow which had their home in dilapidated facilities in this location got a new home along with a new interactive museum.
The Exploratorium is a good example of what we try and combine together in these waterfront major development projects.
Piers 27-29, we’re so excited about the opening of the new James R. Hermann Cruise Terminal. We’ve got a beautiful cruise terminal park, two and a half acres, that is a direct result of the Port and BCDC’s Special Area Plan and Waterfront Plan policies.
This is also an example of a core maritime mission, but not making it exclusive just to that but to combine it so that the facility also functions for special events and has a year round kind of presence to keep the waterfront alive and active.
This facility along with the Ferry Building and our offices at Pier 1 has really been part of a plan of restoring the civic heart of the waterfront at the foot of Market Street and in that process we also were able to bring about a new form of public access along here, the Bay Side History Walk.
The southern waterfront is probably less familiar to most people but that is where the ship repair, our cargo shipping, maritime industries still preside and we don’t do it in an exclusive mode against other interests. We want to respect the industry base that is there, we want to make sure that the industrial maritime functions still work there but we also want to be able to make improvements on the environmental and open space front.
Up north of this area we were able to turn this area into a very successful natural habitat, public opens space and now an eco-center to promote environmental education with access down to the water. This has been a very successful way of bringing together a lot of our shared missions.
Over the last 17 years in the course of producing the report we looked at over a 120 different projects that took place. Those represent about $1.6 billion worth of investment on the public and private side. We’ve created over 60 acres of new waterfront, public open space and parks.
In the course of those improvements, 19 historic piers and buildings have been rehabilitated in whole or part and opened generally to public access so that people understand more of what the history is of the San Francisco Waterfront.
In the process we have removed a lot of dilapidated piers, a lot of them creosote treated, an environmental plus for the Bay.
Not all projects have been successful. There have been failures. The report tries to be quite candid and forthcoming about that. It’s probably more important for us to learn from our mistakes than our successes in figuring out how we move forward.
We are soliciting the publics’ engagement on that so that we can go forward with eyes wide open.
In terms of next steps we have done in the course of looking at the policy framework for the Waterfront Land Use Plan, an assessment of where we think that things seem to be still pretty valid and the policies still giving good current direction and where there are places where we feel like we need to do some further planning. One area is at the foot of Telegraph Hill in the Northeast Waterfront and down where the Warriors had proposed an arena at Pier 30-32 in the South Beach Waterfront we have had difficulties with development. We have had difficulties with public expectations and opinions. We have suggested at a staff level that we start focusing on community planning in those particular areas.
Where other public comments come in suggesting further updates that we should consider for the Waterfront Land Use Plan we also want to embrace that as well. And in addressing whatever those update requirements are we think that is fundamentally important for us to be able to reach out to BCDC and your staff as well as the State Lands and State Lands Staff to be part of those discussions because people are just trying to understand how we balance these very complex interests between our different agencies along with the City’s own policies. The San Francisco Planning Department has to be at the table as well. We invite your comments and continued partnership and help so that we frame answers for the future that also meet your policies as well.
In terms of transportation we wanted to acknowledge, that is actually a big issue that has been flagged in the public comments that we have received so far. Any kind of improvement for the waterfront in San Francisco is running up against those concerns and so we’re really looking at alternative transportation modes as well as, how do we manage legitimate vehicle circulation that needs to get up and down the waterfront on land and on water and recognize that as part of a public access component of the waterfront as well.
I hope that BCDC can look through the lens of your public access policies and help us with managing how we can move forward on some of these transportation improvements.
I am going to turn it over to Brad.
Mr. Benson presented the following: There are a few remaining areas along the waterfront where we’ve had some controversy and where we have some development opportunities. We’re finding that there is far less opportunity to develop along the San Francisco Waterfront.
There are city-wide issues such as transportation. The Embarcadero is congested and people don’t feel like they can move up and down it. There is increased public demand to get down to the water’s edge.
Environmental protection and sustainability has certainly been an increasing commitment on the part of the Port working with BCDC to remove fill from the Bay. We’ve removed almost eight acres of fill since 1997. Most of it is set forth in your Special Area Plan.
We’ve been thinking about air quality, marine emissions, and have installed shore power at Piers 27 and 70 where large vessels can plug into the City’s electric grid instead of running their diesel engines while at berth.
The Port has taken advantage of the opportunities that Diane mentioned to take old marine terminals and convert them to new habitat even in the industrial areas of the waterfront. More recently we’ve been working with the Regional Board to make sure that our under-pier utilities are sound and not leaking into the Bay.
We’ve focused a lot of our efforts over the past five or six years on planning for two major new neighborhoods. These are bigger projects than the Port has ever undertaken. They’re focused at Pier 70 at the foot of Potrero Hill and in Mission Bay just south of the ballpark at Seawall Lot 337, the current Giant’s parking lot.
At Pier 70 we have four major projects going on. Crane Cove Park, we’ve completed design review with the DRB and the help of your staff and we hope that that project which will ultimately be a nine acre park will come to the Commission for a permit next year.
We’ve got ship repair activities. We’re negotiating a lease extension with our ship repair operator. This year we hope to start construction on some of the rehabilitation of the gorgeous industrial buildings along 20th Street. And we’re working with Forrest City Development California on a major new neighborhood on 28 acres on the rest of Pier 70 which will also involve BCDC approvals. This project is dependent on voters approving the planned height increase on the November ballot.
At Seawall Lot 337 we’ve been working with the Giants on a planned neighborhood at this location, residential, commercial, ground floor retail and really filling out Mission Bay with new parks and amenities at a rehabilitated Pier 48. This is another project where we’re going to have to grapple with the issue of heights, which have become so controversial in San Francisco. It will probably need its own ballot measure on a future ballot. We’re really proud to work with the Giants. They’re very capable development partners.
Everybody is now talking about sea level rise largely due to your efforts to highlight the issue. I think the San Francisco public really wants to understand what the Port is going to be doing about sea level rise as we consider this land use planning process. We have some areas of current flood risk; in Mission Creek, Islais Creek, just south of the Ag Building we have current flooding overtopping the seawall in a low-lying area.
In approximately 2050 if the current rates of sea level rise hold, we’d be looking at 12 inches of sea level rise and with a base flood, a hundred year storm condition you see that we have significant inundation around Islais Creek and Mission Creek.
At the end of the century if sea level rise projections hold, the area could see 36 inches and then we have a major problem that the City has to deal with. Much of Mission Bay becomes inundated and most of the piers are fully flooded. Downtown starts to be exposed.
There are maybe areas of the City where it’s possible to accommodate the water. The City is mostly a combined sewer system so storm water and sanitary sewer combined and all treated for the health of the Bay in those areas probably can’t live with water because there would not be the treatment capacity to do it.
There are some separated areas. Mission Bay is operating with a separate storm water system. Much of the Port’s jurisdiction south of Mission Creek is also in that separated system area.
A big question that people want to know is, what are we going to do to protect those areas where you can’t live with water? Is the line of defense the current shoreline? Is the line of defense Bayward of the current shoreline? What are those decisions involved in terms of the Port? Can we have piers the way that we do today? How does the Port continue to function as a port when we make this decision?
Obviously, we know that this is going to involve multiple agencies, multi jurisdictions making this decision about the San Francisco Shoreline, BCDC, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Regional Board and potentially the state of California.
The City is earnest about it. The City has formed an inter-agency group looking at guidance for public works projects and we want to hear what the public has to say as well.
We’ve got other risks. Earthquakes are a more immediate risk. There is something like a three in four chance of a major earthquake on either the Hayward or San Andreas Faults within the next 30 years. And the seawall that protects the shoreline today was not built to any sort of modern seismic standards. I think most people don’t understand how the seawall functions related to the Embarcadero and the piers.
The piers are supported by piles that are actually driven through the seawall. The risk in a seismic event is that the seawall itself could settle and there could be lateral spreading due to liquefaction where the seawall might get pushed several feet out into the Bay.
The Port started a seismic analysis of the seawall to understand what needs to be done in the near term just to keep the Embarcadero functioning.
With current projects underway we are looking at almost 10 percent of the waterfront and trying to plan it and develop it. In other locations, have economic, engineering and regulatory challenges so we’re not sure what to do in these areas. There are still some areas left that might be developed but it is not a lot of the Port. Since this is such a small area maybe the focus of public debate about the Port shifts to sea level rise, to the seawall and to more operational issues.
Our question as we go through this public outreach process is, what kind of Port, what kind of San Francisco Waterfront do people want? We’re here to listen and to share what we’re learning and we look forward to working with BCDC and State Lands and the public in this process.
Vice Chair Halsted commented: It’s really great to see all that has been accomplished in the last 20 years and to imagine what we’re going to do with our challenges in the future.
I would like to be reminded of what your next steps are with the Waterfront Land Use Plan.
Ms. Oshima responded: We are in a public comment phase now. Formerly, we’ve asked for public comments up through November 30th and this report does include some preliminary staff recommendations. We’re trying to use that as a think starter. Our expectation is that after the end of November we will take stock of all the feedback that we are getting and then report back to the Port Commission with what we think are logical next steps including the targeted issues or areas that need further planning. I think that the whole climate change and sea level rise issues falls into that category even though we would be wanting to see what we could do with BCDC to support a regional discussion about that very issue. We expect that that will be coming forward in the new year.
Vice Chair Halsted added: I think this Commission would be quite interested in seeing the work that is going on around Mission Creek and sea level rise.
Commissioner McGrath commented: I found the before and after approach very useful for briefing purposes. This is a really good way to begin to look at things. When we revisit things I would like to see you guys use that technique again and the geographic location of things and what remains unresolved or controversial and the issues behind it because it’s nice to put them in space and it’s nice to put them in context.
Commissioner Doherty commented: I’m particularly interested in terms of how you’re thinking about integrating the hazards of the earthquakes and the sea level rise. What are you thinking about in terms of the priority about looking at green infrastructure approaches and how to apply that in this context of this particular geographic area?
Mr. Benson responded: With respect to the two new neighborhoods that we’re planning in Mission Bay and at the foot of Potrero, we’re working with our development partners to plan green infrastructure to support those neighborhoods, including district energy; the City has adopted storm water design guidelines developed by the Port and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to maximize natural-based treatment of storm water before it enters the Bay.
We’re consulting with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency about transit connections to these developments. It’s foremost in our minds as we’re planning these new neighborhoods.
We struggle with how to manage storm water on our piers because we don’t have those natural-based treatment approaches that are available to us on a constructed pier. It’s something that we’re always thinking about and trying to learn more about.
As we’re doing the analysis of how to seismically upgrade the seawall there is going to be a sea level rise component to that analysis. We’re not sure that the current seawall is the line of defense. We don’t want to make that assumption.
Sea level rise is not going to stop at 2100 and so when the City develops its line of defense, that’s not necessarily the design year.
Executive Director Goldzband commented: One of the history lessons that we will have during 2015 will be something along the lines of, what did Loma Prieta create? The answer to that is, opportunities. My hope is that Diane and Brad would be more than happy to come back and give a little history lesson to BCDC Commissioners about what happened in ’89 and the following years.
Chair Wasserman made a suggestion: I think this map is tremendously helpful. You might consider adding a couple of other land marks, putting on the Bay Bridge and putting on a couple of the significant buildings that are here. This would be to help orient where people are as well as start relating it to the sea level rise one.
I want to thank you very much for your terrific presentation. We look forward to working with you in all kinds of ways to make this a reality.
We didn’t include Commissioner Pemberton in our roll call by mistake so we are formerly making that as part of the record that she was here and that she voted on the PG&E application. She voted, yes, on the application.
I would entertain a motion to adjourn.
11. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Gorin, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted, the meeting was adjourned at 3:11 p.m.
LAWRENCE J. GOLDZBAND
Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of November 6, 2014.
R. ZACHARY WASSERMAN, Chair