The SF Bay Stewardship Alliance is a group of local citizens who are passionate about the Bay. We promote informed conservation and development of the Bay shoreline to benefit the community at large and to ensure the Bay can be enjoyed now and in the future. The Alliance was formed in 2018 to also mount a significant legal and legislative challenge against BCDC who have consistently gone outside and beyond their mandate to the detriment of the Bay.
BCDC has lost sight of its core values and sadly is a prime example of government overreach. Our members have been active in working in the background with the state legislators to reign in the BCDC. We are delighted that in early August a bipartisan group of legislators received support from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee or JLAC and are now conducting an Audit of BCDC. As Kevin Mullin Speaker Pro Tempore of the CA State Assembly stated after the audit was unanimously approved:
“BCDC is headed down the wrong path, losing the trust of those it regulates and blemishing its reputation needlessly. We need an unbiased opinion to substantiate what permittees have experienced and what we are seeing, and recommendations on how to improve the organization’s operation.”
We could not agree more! And what has been BCDC’s public response to this? Well, since the audit was launched in August, BCDC has canceled all but one of their scheduled meetings, including one set for tomorrow. They have canceled more than half of their public meetings to date this year!
To illustrate how ridiculous many of the BCDC recent actions are we give a few examples that have included fines of $30,000 for each for the following:
- The shape of picnic tables at a key Bay restaurant
- Fines for metal doors that were mandated by the fire department to protect the public
- Fines for allowing Police and Fire Boats moored in marinas at the request of the police and fire department to protect public safety.
Yes – a $30,000 fine mandated in each case for no good reason at all. Another case we highlight is regarding a local business who successfully sued BCDC after it was wrongfully fined $772K over disputed levee repairs. Most people or organizations often do not have the wherewithal to challenge BCDC as it is an expensive legal process and therefore end up being held to ransom for no good cause.
The Alliance recently filed a lawsuit against BCDC due to the agencies lack of transparency with repeated attempts to thwart the Alliance efforts to obtain public records which is an allowed process. In particular, the Alliance wanted details of how BCDC spends the fines it collects. It is the Alliance’s belief that these fines do NOT benefit the Bay conservation but are used primarily to grow the bureaucracy of BCDC.
We believe BCDC should be challenged on its budget and its governance. For example, BCDC spends less than 12cents of every $ from their $8m budget on improving the Bay. Almost half goes to staff salaries, commissioners expenses and a lot of attorney fees. This is clearly NOT what the legislature and the people of California support based on the MacAterr Petris act put in place 50 years ago.
BCDC has more than double the number of Commissioners compared to the California Coastal Commission even though the length of the Bay shoreline is a fraction of the California State shoreline.
We are convinced BCDC needs a major overhaul. So we intend to cooperate fully with the State audit and submit our findings to them. We believe the issues are so outrageous that BCDC should immediately suspend all enforcement actions pending the outcome of the audit. It is our objective that BCDC returns to its original mandate which was simply to promote responsible development of the Bay shoreline. That is in everyone’s interests – the way BCDC is operating now is in no one’s interest at all.
Peter Blackmore, cofounder, The Alliance, Wednesday, October 17th, 2018