Letter to the Mayor and Council from Norman La Force, February 15 2003

From: Norman La Force [mailto:n.laforce@attbi.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2003 9:49 AM
To: Dona Spring; Gordon Wozniak; Kriss Worthington; Linda Maio; Miriam Hawley; Maudelle Shirek; Betty Olds; Margaret Breland; Tom Bates; Jerome Wiggens; Zelda Bronstein; David Stoloff; David Tabb; Gene Poschman; Harry Pollack; John Curl; Rob Wrenn; Susan Wengraf; Joan Collignon; Justine Staneko; Janet Cobb; Stephen Mackhouse; Norine Smith; Claudia Kawcynska; Brad Smith; Larry Orman Cc: Brian Parker; Teddi Baggins; Ed Bennett; Kitty McLean; Peter Rauch; Kristin Ohlson; Corinne Greenberg; Russ Wilson; Sarah Ginskey; n.laforce@attbi.com; Arthur Feinstein; cheastylaw@netscape.net; Traci McCollister
Subject: Further Comments on Marina Plan

Dear Mayor Bates and Council Members, Planning and Waterfront Commissioners:

On February 19, 2003 the Marina Plan will be back before the Waterfront Commission. Sierra Club and CESP has a major problem with whatis going on. I will explain.

The Planning Commission Identified Severe Problems With the Marina Plan

As you will recall at the joint meeting of the Planning Commission and Waterfront Commissioners, the Planning Commission expressed many problems with the Marina Plan as a Master Plan and did not find that it was consistent with the City's general plan.

At that meeting we heard the city staff state that they would take suggestions from the Planning Commission and reword portions of the Marina Plan to make the document better. Furthermore, Brad Smith and Justine Staneko of the Waterfront Commission agreed to form a subcommittee to work out further language revisions. Almost all of the concerns involved the UTTER LACK of environmental policies in this document and the UTTER FAILURE of the Initial Study on environmental impacts to acknowledge, identify or study known environmental issues and problems such as impacts on waterfowl.

City Staff Now Says It Will Not Try to Fix All of the Problems But Will Present The Plan In Its Flawed Form to The Waterfront Commission So As To Punt To the City Council

City Staff has now informed the Sierra Club and CESP that the Marina Plan documents will be presented to the Waterfront Commission for its approval WITHOUT any additions, changes, or amendments. Apparently, the view is that staff wants the Commission to simply kick all of the problems and issues upstairs to the City Council instead of dealing with these issues at the appropriate staff and commission level.

This Abrogation of Responsibility Is Not Good Planning And Should Not Be Accepted by the Council or the Commissions

The Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and CESP do not find this an acceptable way to proceed. It is clear this plan and the initial study are flawed. It is clear that the documents need much work just to make them acceptable. It is clear that staff recognized this, but does not want to do the work. It is clear that despite having spent between $250,000 and $500,000 for this work product the City has not received an acceptable set of documents that could legally pass muster for anything.

We request that the Waterfront Commission NOT approve the Marina Plan and Initial Study at this time. Instead, it should be referred back to staff for reworking to meet the problems the Planning Commission and the Sierra Club, GGAS, and CESP identified and to work out the issues concerning the lack of policies on environmental protection.

I must say that it is amazing to hear that the city staff intends to push this through at the Commission level despite all the problems this document has. It is simply an effort to slough off responsibility. All that will happen is that the City Council will have to take this issue up and refer it back again for further work.

The Plan's Environmental Document Did Not Even Study The Impact of the Plan On a Known Nesting Site for the Northern Harrier, A Species of Special Concern

One of the deficiencies in the plan documents is the lack of analysis of environmental impacts. We noted the failure to analyze impacts of proposed changes to Marina Blvd. on the Meadow.

In the Eastshore State Park planning process, the distinguished environmental consulting firm LSA identified the fact that Northern Harriers were observed catching prey in the Meadow and carrying to within 50 feet of Marina Blvd. Such activity is consistent with a nest site in that location where the prey was taken. Moving Marina Blvd east would place it closer to that nest site. Yet, the Initial Study for the the Marina Plan did not even acknowledge the existence of the Northern Harrier in the Meadow, let alone study impacts on its nesting site!!! As a species of special concern (at least until George Bush gets through with Saddamizing our environmental laws), the city is obligated to make a careful and searching analysis of impacts on such a species. The Initial Study doesn't even do any analysis.

The Marina Plan should be done right and staff should not be proposing punting on this issue just to avoid the inevitable.

Sincerely yours,

Norman La Force, Chair
Sierra Club East Bay Public Lands Committee and
Vice-President of Citizens for the Eastshore State Park