How not to play BCDC’s shell game

Now watch carefully as BCDC keeps changing its requirements so you can never find the permit.

shell game/ˈSHel ˌɡām/noun NORTH AMERICAN

1: a game involving sleight of hand, in which three inverted cups or nutshells are moved about, and contestants must spot which is the one with a pea or other object underneath.

2: a deceptive and evasive action or ploy, especially a political one.

Source: Google dictionary

The Marine ScienceInstitute (MSI) teaches over 50,000 Bay Area children annually about the ecology of SF Bay. Based on Redwood Creek in Redwood City, MSI’s unique education program uses science and hands-on experiences to show how our environment, and how we interact with it, impacts where we live. It makes lifelong stewards of SF Bay of all who participate in their programs.

At the heart of the MSI program is their ship, The Robert G. Brownlee. This ship was specifically designed for educating children in the unique marine conditions of the San Francisco Bay. The vessel came into service in 1998 and hosts children from in San Francisco, to Richmond, to Rio Vista, and Antioch. MSI brings the science lab to the students, saving the schools and the kids time and money. For many children, this is their first experience on a boat on SF Bay!

The younger children do not venture out on the Brownlee. MSI has devised a special program for youngsters using their beach (see below) to help them catch small animals and crustaceans from the Bay. It’s the highest energy part of their visit! This beach is also open to the public and many kayakers and other paddle clubs lunch their boats from MSI’s beach. The beach has eroded over time and is in urgent need of restoration. Children can no longer venture onto the beach as it is today (see below).

How the beach looked before
How the beach looks today

Five years ago, MSIobtained a grant to restore their beach. They carefully applied for the appropriate permits and received approvals from six local, state and federal agencies. Only one agency, BCDC, has refused to authorize work. That was five years ago. Now, five years later, BCDC is demanding an expensive and unnecessary study (costing at least $20,000), before granting the permit. At midnight, on December 31st the precious grant money disappears.

What is wrong with BCDC? Why does it take 5-years to get a simple permit to replace shells on a beach? Why does it take pressure from The Alliance and an 11th-hour-battle in the media to get the attention of the Commission? 

It seems to TheAlliance that BCDC should be in front of this issue and be working night and day to make the restoration of the MSI beach happen. What could be more important work at the BCDC than helping to safely educate thousands of children on the ecology of SF Bay? They should be funding these kinds of programs not wasting time and the limited resources of a dedicated group of scientists and educators.

If you agree, write to the BCDC.  Demand they take action. Do it now. Here is the link to their phone numbers and email addresses.

Also, MSI is a stellar non-profit that can always use your support! They have been in existence for over 45 years. Learn more about them and how you can help by visiting

BCDC in the news, but not in a good way, on this issue

CBS News Marine Institute Blocked from Beach Restoration Project By Government Agency

Latitude 38 Marine Science Institute Fights for Its Beach

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