Frequently Asked Questions
What is BCDC?
Do I need a BCDC permit?
Where is the Commission's jurisdiction?
What types of activity require a permit?
How do I apply for BCDC permit?
How long does it take to process my application?
How do I get an application?
Do I need other permits?
What happens if I begin work without a permit?
What are the responsibilities of the Commission?
What is the Commission's address and phone number?
The 27-member San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was created by the California Legislature in 1965 in response to broad public concern over the future of San Francisco Bay. The Commission is made up of appointees from the following local governments and state/federal agencies:
Five, including the chairman and vice-chairman, appointed by the Governor.
One appointed by the Speaker of the State Assembly.
One appointed by the State Senate Rules Committee.
One appointed by the Director of Finance.
One each appointed by the Board of Supervisors of each of the nine Bay Area Counties.
One each from a north, east, south, and west Bay city appointed by the Association of Bay Area Governments.
One from the California Business and Transportation Agency .
One from the California Resources Agency .
One from the California State Lands Commission.
One from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region.
One from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
One from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.
You probably need a permit if you are planning a project along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay in the following Bay Area counties: Alameda; Contra Costa; Marin; Napa; San Francisco; San Mateo; Santa Clara; Solano; Sonoma.
The open water, marshes and mudflats of greater San Francisco Bay, including Suisun, San Pablo, Honker, Richardson, San Rafael, San Leandro and Grizzly Bays and the Carquinez Strait.
The first 100 feet inland from the shoreline around San Francisco Bay.
The portion of the Suisun Marsh-including levees, waterways, marshes and grasslands- below the ten-foot contour line.
Portions of most creeks, rivers, sloughs and other tributaries that flow into San Francisco Bay.
Salt ponds, duck hunting preserves, game refuges and other managed wetlands that have been diked off from San Francisco Bay.
A BCDC permit must be obtained before you do any of the following things within the Commission's jurisdiction:
Place solid material, build or repair docks, pile-supported or cantilevered structures, dispose of material or moor a vessel for a long period in San Francisco Bay or in certain tributaries that flow into the Bay.
Dredge or extract material from the Bay bottom.
Substantially change the use of any structure or area.
Construct, remodel or repair a structure.
Subdivide property or grade land.
To get a BCDC permit, you need to complete an application form (which requires detailed project information and plans) and pay a processing fee that ranges from $50 for a pre-authorized project to $10,000 for a project costing more than ten million dollars. The application must be submitted by the owner of the project site or the owner's representative (architect, attorney, contractor, etc.).
Once you submit a complete application, by law the Commission must grant or deny your permit within 90 days unless you agree to extend this period. Most applications are processed within five to eight weeks.
Application forms and instructions, information describing the Commission's permit review process and other documents that may be helpful to you are available on-line. If you desire, the same documents will be sent to you upon request at no charge.
This material can also be picked up at the Commission's office. During office hours, a staff member is always available to answer questions.
BCDC cannot file your application as complete until you have received all discretionary local permits (i.e., variances, zoning changes, excavation or fill permits, planned unit development and tentative subdivision map approvals and all other local approvals except ministerial permits, such as building permits). However, do not wait until you have your local permits to contact BCDC. By discussing your project with the Commission's staff before you have completed your plans, you can avoid having to go through the local review process a second time to gain approval for design changes that are needed to meet BCDC requirements.
BCDC encourages applicants to file draft applications to make it easier for the staff to assist you. In addition, projects that require BCDC permits often must receive authorization from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board--San Francisco Bay Region, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
BCDC operates an active enforcement program to detect and prosecute violators who do not obtain required BCDC permits or do not carry out permitted activities in compliance with a permit's conditions of approval. The owner of the property on which a violation takes place is legally responsible for the violation. Many violations can be handled with the issuance of after-the-fact permits or amendments (at double the normal processing fee) if the unpermitted work otherwise complies with state law. A standardized fine may be involved, ranging from $1,000 to $30,000 per violation.
The Commission handles other violations by issuing cease and desist orders, which can require that work be stopped, unpermitted structures be removed, and other remedies. Civil penalties not to exceed $30,000 per violation are usually involved.
Serious violations are referred to the California Attorney General for prosecution. Under state law, these violations are subject to a number of potential penalties, such as: (1) civil penalties of up to $30,000; (2) in addition to any other penalties, between $50 and $5,000 per day for a negligent violation; (3) in addition to any other penalties, between $100 and $10,000 per day for a knowing and intentional violation; and (4) exemplary penalties in an amount determined by the court as necessary to deter further violation.
The Commission is charged with:
Regulating all filling and dredging in San Francisco Bay (which includes San Pablo and Suisun Bays, sloughs and certain creeks and tributaries that are part of the Bay system, salt ponds and certain other areas that have been diked-off from the Bay).
Protecting the Suisun Marsh, the largest remaining wetland in California, by administering the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act in cooperation with local governments.
Regulating new development within the first 100 feet inland from the Bay to ensure that maximum feasible public access to the Bay is provided.
Minimizing pressures to fill the Bay by ensuring that the limited amount of shoreline area suitable for high priority water-oriented uses is reserved for ports, water-related industries, water-oriented recreation, airports and wildlife areas.
Pursuing an active planning program to study Bay issues so that Commission plans and policies are based upon the best available current information.
Administering the federal Coastal Zone Management Act within the San Francisco Bay segment of the California coastal zone to ensure that federal activities reflect Commission policies.
Participating in the region wide State and federal program to prepare a Long Term Management Strategy (LTMS) for dredging and dredge material disposal in San Francisco Bay.
Participating in California's oil spill prevention and response planning program.
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
50 California Street, Suite 2600
San Francisco, California 94111
Phone: (415) 352-3600
Facsimile: (415) 352-3606
We are located on the corner of Davis and California streets, one block north of Market and two blocks west of the Ferry Building. We recommend that you use public transit when visiting our offices. All major Bay Area transit services are within walking distance of 50 California Street.