The SF Bay Stewardship Alliance (The Alliance) includes local citizens and employers who care about the Bay, promoting informed conservation and responsible development of the San Francisco Bay shoreline.
The Alliance alleges that the BCDC specifically targets certain businesses, all of which are required to pay permit fees to the commission if they extract or fill materials from the Bay, through the issuance of minor violations.
Examples of minor violations, charged at $30,000 each:
- the shape of picnic tables
- metal doors required by local fire officials
- having fire and police boats in a harbor, claiming this is illegal and unauthorized
In one case, a Bay Area business successfully sued the BCDC after it was wrongfully fined more than $772,000 over disputed levee repairs.
These and other instances of extreme governmental overreach prompted a bipartisan call earlier this year by California lawmakers for a state audit that is currently underway.
The Alliance was formed to take a stand against these practices, as well as the BCDC’s targeting of specific businesses.
The State is conducting an audit, requested by the legislature, of the BCDC to investigate its enforcement activities, adherence to its mission, funding and operational needs and structure.
The Alliance has filed a lawsuit against the BCDC due to the agency’s lack of transparency and repeated attempts to thwart the Alliance’s efforts to obtain public records, including details on how the BCDC spends the fines it collects.
Members allege the BCDC is using those funds to grow its bureaucracy rather than protecting the Bay.
BCDC currently spends less than 12 cents out every dollar from its $8 million budget on improving the Bay. Almost half (45%) goes toward staff salaries and commissioner’s expenses, while most of the rest goes to attorney’s fees.
BCDC has more than double the number of commissioners as the California Coastal Commission, even though the length of the Bay shore is less than a quarter of the state’s shoreline.
The Alliance seeks an immediate suspension of enforcement actions by the BCDC as the audit continues and is pushing the BCDC for a return to fulfilling its original mandates.