Good things often emerge in the face of adversity.
We have been reporting on the aggressive tactics of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, or BCDC, regarding Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City, and against John Sweeney at Point Buckler in Suisuin Bay. Sweeney fought and won an expensive legal battle against the BCDC’s attempted $3.6 million fines, while Westpoint is still in ongoing negotiations with the agency.
These altercations with the BCDC have provoked both legislative and citizen scrutiny of their actions, and increased efforts to rein in what many see as the agency’s misguided efforts. Just before we went to press, a newly formed nonprofit — the SF Bay Stewardship Alliance — announced its formation in front of the BCDC offices at the Civic Center. The group is made up of “citizens and employers who care about our Bay,” and said one of their first actions will be to file a lawsuit against the BCDC over what they say are 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.
“The BCDC has lost sight of its core values, becoming a prime example of government run amok and forcing business owners to struggle to stay afloat,” said Bob Wilson, co-founder of the SF Bay Stewardship Alliance.
In addition to this new group and lawsuit, the State of California is now conducting an audit of BCDC. “BCDC is headed down the wrong path, losing the trust of those it regulates and blemishing its reputation needlessly,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin a few months ago. “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.”
As we said in our September editorial, we have an existential disagreement with the BCDC over what Bay “access” means. Artist’s renderings from developers — such as the proposed Alameda Landing project on the Estuary — often include scenic views of the Bay with sailboats in the background with a fence in between and no shoreside facilities to store, maintain, or service the lovely boats on the Bay.
A primary purpose of the BCDC is to provide access to the Bay, not views of the Bay or paths around it. Without access and services, the future of sailing will only be in historical renderings.
To be fair, the BCDC is responsible for cleaning up the Bay over the last 50 years. Now, the volunteers making up the Stewardship Alliance will help make sure our clean Bay remains accessible to all.