Regional Government and Regulatory Agencies – Is This Going to Work for the Business Community?

Our second workshop in the Jobs, They Help All of Us! WORKSHOP SERIES 2011 took place on September 14 at the URS office in Oakland, California.



Regional Government and Regulatory Agencies – Is This Going to Work for the Business Community? BAAQMD, BCDC, ABAG and MTC, it is more than alphabet soup. How do we assure that our business community can thrive with conflicting regulatory guidelines and rules? What are our rights?

Revised BAAQMD CEQA guidelines and the challenges posed for urban in-fill projects and development.

How the proposed Bay Plan amendments addressing Climate Change & Sea Level Rise will affect projects in the near and long term.

Update on California’s “anti-sprawl” legislation (SB 375) and how its centerpiece, the Sustainable Communities Strategy (“SCS”), is being rolled out.

Download a PDF of the complete workshop agenda

Panel 1 CEQA: Practical Impacts of the Revised BAAQMD CEQA Guidelines

Over the past eighteen months or so, lead agencies and project applicants have had to assess air quality impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) using the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s (BAAQMD’s) revised CEQA guidelines as part of permitting for new projects.   The implementation of these new guidelines has presented new challenges, especially for in-fill projects in urban parts of the Bay Area.  Meanwhile, implementation of the regional Sustainable Communities Strategy under SB 375, which emphasizes in-fill development, is also moving forward.  This portion of the workshop aims to provide a discussion of the experience gain to date in implementing the revised CEQA guidelines and the practical impacts and challenges presented to new development and businesses moving into existing urban centers around the Bay because of this new guidance and any potential solutions to date.

Topics that could be discussed

  • Guidelines analysis approach versus development of best practices
    • Paralysis through analysis or more practical approach needed?
    • Recognition that technology may not exist to mitigate all risks so does that mean a project is not desirable?
    • Cat-ex and NegDecs no longer possible?
    • Infill (local need) helps reduce GHGs (regional/global need) but is closer to sources of air toxics (local impact). 
      • Is it possible to meet both?
      • Has implementation of the guidelines hampered infill development?
      • Do air toxics requirements (local impacts) conflict with SB375 (regional) goals?


City Planner:  Bill Wycko, SF Environmental Planning Division

BAAQMD:  Henry Hilken, Director of Planning, Rules & Research

BAAQMD Board of Directors:  John Gioia, Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, District 1

Job and Housing Coalition:  Greg McConnell, President and CEO

ABAG, Ken Kirkey, Planning Director


Panel 2 BCDC: Proposed Bay Plan Amendments Addressing Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

Proposed Bay Plan Amendments Addressing Climate Change & Sea Level Rise:

In 2009, BCDC staff released a report indicating that sea level rise in San Francisco Bay could be as much as 16 inches by mid-century and 55 inches by the end of the century.  The report indicated that the area vulnerable to inundation with a 16-inch sea level rise roughly corresponds to today’s 100-year floodplain.  In response to concerns over sea level rise, BCDC staff has been working on Bay Plan Amendment No. 1-08 for the past three years.  Following significant input and public participation by local environmental groups, business community representatives, and development interests, BCDC and multiple draft recommendations, BCDC staff released the latest draft of the proposed Bay Plan Amendments on July 29, 2011.  A public hearing on the latest draft was held September 1, 2011.  The Commission is poised to vote on Bay Plan Amendment 1-08 on October 6, 2011.  

The panel will address which components of the Plan Amendment have proven most controversial, how the controversies have been resolved, and how BCDC staff anticipates the proposed Plan Amendment would be implemented in both the near term and the long term.

Specific discussion topics will include:

  • Overview of the two year Plan Amendment process:
    • What are implications of its adoption; how does SCS integrate with local planning?
    • What are incentives for compliance by local agencies?
    • Highlights from the current draft of the proposed Plan Amendments.  What has changed and how?
    • How will the Plan Amendments affect projects in the near term?
      • Will sea level rise be considered in reviewing applications?
      • What factors will be relevant to BCDC in weighing sea level rise considerations?
      • What will be the local agencies role, if any, in helping to apply the Plan Amendments?
      • Upcoming actions
        • Timeline for proposed approval by Commission.
        • Timing and process for future Joint Policy Committee participation and action.


Joe LaClair, San Francisco Bay Conservation Development Commission

Paul Campos, Senior Vice President, BIA of the Bay Area

Ian Wren, Staff Scientist, San Francisco Baykeeper

Jay Ach, Manager of Regulatory & Environmental Affairs, Port of San Francisco


Case Study Speakers:

Robert Freed, President and CEO, & Katia Kamangar, Senior Vice President, Managing Director, SummerHill Homes

Tiffany Bohee, Project Manager, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Panel 3 SB 375: Update on SB 375 and Development of Regional Land Use Plan

In 2008, the Legislature passed California’s “anti-sprawl” legislation, also known as Senate Bill (“SB”) 375.  This legislation seeks to curb leapfrog development by creating incentives and disincentives for cities and counties to establish complementary land uses in closer proximity to one another, such as residential homes and job centers.  The thought is that this land use blueprint would minimize vehicle miles traveled, and thereby minimize environmental impacts to air quality and traffic congestion.  The centerpiece of the legislation is the Sustainable Communities Strategy (“SCS”), which was envisioned as a regional development pattern that integrated land use designations with the regional transportation network—i.e., a regionally-sized general plan, of sorts.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has been tasked with developing the SCS.  This workshop will provide an update on the planning process, who has been influencing the process, and how it is shaping up.

Topics that could be discussed

  • Quick overview of the SCS
    • What are implications of its adoption; how does SCS integrate with local planning?
    • What are incentives for compliance by local agencies?
    • What are disincentives for compliance by local agencies?
    • The Bay Area SCS workshops 
      • Participation levels;
      • Interest groups exercising most influence;
      • What form is the SCS currently taking, and how does it affect member interests?
      • Next steps
        • Timeline
        • How you can get involved


Ezra Rapport, Executive Director,  Association of Bay Area Governments

Bobby Glover, Executive Director, California Building Industry Association

Stephanie Reyes, Policy Director, Greenbelt Alliance

David Greensfelder, Director, LandMark Retail Group’s Northern California Division


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