1. Call to Order.
Directors Amoroso, Comstock, Godino, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding.
3. Manager’s Report.
-- Update on the Terrace Avenue Water Main Relocation Project.
The district filed a Notice of Completion with the County of Marin for this project November 26th and the final retention payment due to the contractor will be paid 45-60 days after that date (assuming no liens have been recorded). The district also submitted its certification of project completion to the Sonoma District office of the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) on December 9th. The final paperwork to be submitted to the CDPH is a full written disclosure of all sources and amount of funds contributed to the project, along with a copy of the recorded notice of completion and a final release. Staff anticipates that all documentation will be submitted before the end of January 2014.
-- Update on the Terrace Avenue Bluff Stabilization Project.
Staff identified three potential planning consultants in Marin and is in the process of interviewing them to determine whether they are interested in working on the permitting phase of the project. Per the advice of the consulting geotechnical engineers, David Kimball from the Bolinas Fire Protection District board is developing a beach monitoring protocol to document the sand level changes at the project location over the upcoming year. Finally, Supervisor Steve Kinsey was appointed to be the Chair of the California Coastal Commission this week.
-- Update on the Wastewater Treatment Plant Pump Station and Electrical Upgrade Project.
Bids were due yesterday at noon and the district received two bids. The lowest responsible bidder was Blocka Construction. Staff and the district’s engineer are analyzing the bid and an item will be included on the January meeting agenda for the Board to consider the bids.
-- Update on Shared Personnel Between BCPUD and Bolinas Fire Protection District.
No update; staff anticipates that cross-training of BCPUD and BFPD staff will begin early in 2014.
--Update on Removal of Obstructions in Zebra Right-of-Way.
Staff reported that per the Board’s direction at the November meeting, another meeting was held at the Zebra right-of-way on December 12th. The following persons were present: Sue Verhalen, Martino Magid, Don Murch, John and Erica McCrea, Bill Pierce, Lewie Likover, Anita Tyrrell-Brown and Jennifer Blackman. The objective of the meeting was to identify an access route within the Zebra right-of-way to Sue Verhalen’s property. At this point, many (but not all) of the obstructing structures, decks, patios and materials have been removed from the Zebra right-of-way and the McCrea property. The McCreas agreed that the Bolinas Fire Protection District (“BFPD”) may use the paved private driveway on their property -- for emergency purposes only -- to access the Verhalen property. This simplifies the access issue enormously as installing access to BPFD requirements within the Zebra right-of-way would be very costly. Martino Magid said that he is willing to allow the structure remaining in the Zebra right-of-way to be moved onto his property if the County will allow it. After an extended discussion and evaluation of the site conditions, it was agreed that the Verhalen access will be developed off of Yucca directly next to where the structure currently is located and uphill over an existing drainage culvert to the bottom border of the Verhalen property.
-- Update on BCPUD’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan.
Staff has begun the process of categorizing the district’s assets and the first spreadsheet documenting the water transmission infrastructure components is in the Board binders. Staff will prepare similar documentation for the water treatment, water distribution, sewage collection, sewage treatment, sewage disposal, office and equipment assets. Director Comstock said that the overview of the district’s infrastructure is very important as it will guide the district’s budgeting and reserve planning processes.
Staff directed the Board’s attention to the water consumption statistics in the Board books: consumption was down slightly as compared to this time last year on the back of the Mesa. Currently water consumption is quite low: 70,000 – 90,000 gallons per day, which translates to an average of approximately 120-150 gallons per day per household. This is less than the 150 gallon per day per household amount the district imposed during the mandatory rationing period 5 years ago. In large part because of the sustained reduced consumption district-wide since rationing was imposed, the district is in better shape right now (in terms of its available water supply) than it was five years ago. The fact that the weather has been quite cold and that the days are short also are suppressing consumption. However, as the weather warms back up and the days lengthen, it is likely that consumption will begin to rise. At present, the district is drawing all of its raw water supply from the Arroyo Hondo Creek and is not resorting to drawing from its emergency reservoirs. Staff noted that a more detailed report about the district’s water supply will be given by the district’s Chief Operator later in the meeting.
Staff reported that a leak was repaired today on the district’s “booster pump line”, which is the water main that runs from the storage tanks on Mesa Road back to the four customers west of the Woodrat Water Treatment Plant. The leak was caused by a failed coupling, likely due to land movement, out past Commonweal. Staff discovered the leak after noticing an uptick in the booster pump hours (suggesting an unusual surge in demand for water) and then walking the line. Meanwhile, maintenance work at the treatment plant is on-going; staff replaced a failed membrane on one of the filters this week.
The chlorine disinfection byproduct pilot project continues to move forward. Staff met with consultant Jonathan Van Bourg earlier this month to discuss the preliminary results of the membrane degradation study and reservoir management strategies, among other things. Staff would like to retain a reservoir management consultant from Berkeley to assist the district at a cost of $1,000 for 8 hours of consulting. There was no objection from the Board.
A “New Director Orientation” was held at the BCPUD offices on Decmber 11th for new directors Grace Godino and Lyndon Comstock. A copy of the orientation agenda is in the Board binders. The Board reviewed correspondence from the County of Marin concerning the Wintersteen retaining wall at the end of Oak Road and from the Local Agency Formation Commission of Marin about an upcoming water service study.
On the wastewater side of operations, staff reported that the memorial bench honoring former BCPUD director Peter Warshall was installed at a location below the lab building earlier in the month and looks wonderful. Flows continue to be quite low into the treatment facility and all repairs to service laterals required by the district have been complpeted.
-- Drainage Project Manager’s Report.
No drainage report this month. Drainage Project Manager Lewie Likover is working on updating the district’s maps of completed drainage projects.
Director Comstock noted that Chief Operator Bill Pierce was present in the meeting room to report during Item 13 and he suggested that the Board move that item up on the meeting agenda. Director Amoroso suggested that item 10 be moved up as well, to accomodate Mr. McCaffrey.
V. Amoroso/L. Comstock all in favor to move item 13 up to the next item on the agenda and to move item 10 to immediately follow item 13.
13. Water Supply Discussion: Contingency Planning for Potential Water Rationing; Enhanced Water Conservation Strategies.
Chief Operator Bill Pierce noted that the district currently is experiencing conditions similar to the conditions it experienced five years ago when it imposed mandatory rationing. Specifically, the district is experiencing a very dry winter thus far, following an extremely dry calendar year – the majority of the rains last winter were during November and December of 2012. However, the district’s water supply status today is not as dire as it was five years ago. Five years ago, consumption district-wide was much higher than it is today and the district already had used its reservoir water sources very extensively by January 2009 because the Arroyo Hondo Creek flows were very low – in fact, Woodrat #2 was empty and the district had less than 6 million gallons of water in storage. At present, the district has more than 10 million gallons in storage and is able to provide all of the water necessary to meet demand from the Arroyo Hondo Creek, largely due to the rains that occurred prior to Thanksgiving which boosted the creek flows considerably. As staff reported earlier, consumption in the district right now is averaging 70,000 – 90,000 gallons per day, which is comparatively quite low. However, Bill cautioned that conditions could change quickly – right now, it is cold and the days are short, so people are not watering their landscaping and generally are using less water. Bill noted that a few months ago when the days were longer and the weather was warmer, the district had to rely on the reservoirs for approximately 40% of the water it supplied the community.
Bill further cautioned that if the district rations water again this year, it may be more difficult as he does not believe the same level of “excess demand” for water exists today as existed five years ago due to the fact that the community already had been practicing commendable voluntary conservation. Bill said he recently calculated that if the creek flows hold at the levels they are now (a generous assumption), storage remains as-is, and consumption averages a more typical 100,000 gallons per day (requiring the district to supplement its water supply with the reservoir water sources), then the district will be out of stored water by August 25, 2014. Although it likely will rain at some point before the onset of the summer months, this calculation is intended to give a sense of where the district stands vis-à-vis its water supply. In response to questions from the Board, Bill said that the best case scenario for the district is some prolonged rains that will fill the reservoirs and recharge the creek during the winter and spring. Since this is far from assured, staff will commence community outreach within the next two weeks to inform the community about the water supply and request that customers turn off all automatic irrigation systems and reduce or cease landscape irrigation at this time.
10. Request from North Bay Corporation for Annual Rate Adjustment of 2.33% Effective January 1, 2014.
Steve McCaffrey with Empire Waste Disposal (a subsidiary of North Bay Corporation) was present to explain that the company is requesting its annual rate adjustment per the formula set forth in the franchise agreement with the district (which allows a rate increase of 85% of the local CPI), plus the prorata surcharge imposed by the County of Marin for its Zero Waste initiative. As such, the amount of the rate adjustment is 2.23% effective January 1, 2014. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. McCaffrey said that Bolinas has the lowest rates in the state; the monthly rate for the regular garbage will be $16.49. He also noted that the company has retained the drivers (and their routes) servicing Bolinas as requested by the Board in earlier years.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith all in favor to approve the annual rate adjustment of 2.33% effective January 1, 2014.
4. Community Expression.
Director Siedman noted that Janet Mattingly submitted a letter to explain a recent leak at her property and the efforts she made to repair it. The Board directed staff to assist Ms. Mattingly to the extent possible.
5. Request that BCPUD Remove or Internally Thin/Reduce Crown of Hazardous Eucalyptus Tree located in the Fern Road Right-of-Way near Ocean Parkway (P. Harris)
Director Siedman summarized a letter submitted by Paul Harris, along with an arborist report by Ray Moritz and an estimate from Pacific Slope for the cost of removal of a eucalyputs tree in the Fern Road right-of-way. Director Amoroso commented that the arbortist report indicates that the crown of the tree can be thinned and reduced to alleviate the hazard, but that will need to be maintained so it likely is more cost effective to remove the tree at the estimated cost of $1,900. Director Smith also noted that the district requires a contribution from the affected neighborhood toward the cost of any tree removal and that should be the case here.
V. Amoroso/G. Godino all in favor to approve the removal of the hazardous eucalyptus tree located in the Fern Road right-of-way near Ocean Parkway for $1,900 on the condition the neighborhood contributes to the cost.
6. Request for Financial Relief from Quarterly Water Bill pursuant to BCPUD Resolution 553 – 99 Brighton (M. Talucci).
Jorge Bustamente was present on behalf of the homeowners and explained that he looks after the property. He said that a water heater malfunction had caused a leak under the house that was not detccted for quite a while; in addition, during the summer the irrigation system was on which also contributed to the high water use. Director Siedman advised Jorge that the district does not allow financial relief for water loss caused by irrigation systems and said that the Board needs a breakdown of the amount of water loss attributable to the water heater leak vs. the amount used by the irrigation system. Director Smith questioned why the water heater leak was not detected immediately as a huge amount of water was used during the quarter in question (more than 250,000 gallons) and must have been obvious. The Board directed staff to continue this item until such time as the homeowners are able to verify the source(s) of the water loss and when/how the leak was repaired.
7. Request for Financial Relief from Quarterly Water Bill pursuant to BCPUD Resolution 553 – 330 Cedar Road (J. Bustamante).
Jorge Bustamente explained that when he received his bill during the first week of August, he was startled as it had jumped from $22.50 at the end of the prior quarter to over $330.00. He looked all over his property and found a leak in an underground pipe leading to an outdoor shower. He had the leak repaired immediately after he found it. Director Smith said that in cases of “blind” underground leaks like this that are properly repaired, the district historically has granted full financial relief for the amount of the bill over the historic average bill for the same quarter.
D. Smith/L. Comstock all in favor to reduce the bill by amount of water loss due to the leak based on the historic average water bill for the same quarter.
8. Coastal Permit Application (14-7) and Variance (14-2), APN # 193-151-19, 65 Crescente Avenue, Bolinas; Expanded Water Use Permit Application (A. Saleh).
Alber Saleh was present to explain that he is doing an extensive remodel of his residence and will be reducing the overall number of bedrooms and bathrooms: reducing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and replacing all of the plumbing. He noted that the project is being done in two phases; he appeared before the Board previously for the first phase of the project (which is now under construction) and this is the second phase. In response to questions from the Board, Alber explained that the present carport will become a garage, which explains the technical increase in square footage noted in the County paperwork, but this is not habitable space. He said the number of bedrooms will be reduced from 4 to 3 and the house will be used part-time; he said he also has shut off and abandoned an irrigation system installed by a prior owner. Director Smith observed that the water use is not likely to increase as a result of the project and proposed approval of an unconditional expanded water use permit.
D. Smith/L. Comstock all in favor to approve an unconditional expanded water use permit.
9. Coastal Permit Application (14-10), APN # 190-181-27, 380 Larch Road, Bolinas; Expanded Water Use Permit Application (A. Patton for C. Chestnut).
Alethea Patton was present on behalf of the homeowner to explain that the property was redtagged for removing redwood trees that had been planted previously by the homeowner’s father and for a failing septic system. The septic system is being repaired and there are no changes proposed for the house at all and no foreseeable impact on water use. An arborist report and a biologist report were submitted to the County and a greenlight has been given for the project.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith all in favor to approve an unconditional expanded water use permit.
10. Request from North Bay Corporation for Annual Rate Adjustment of 2.33% Effective January 1, 2014.
11. Request for Reconsideration of BCPUD Letter Opposing the Use of Rodenticides on the South Farallon Islands (G. Geupel).
Director Siedman reminded the audience of the BCPUD’s historic role when letters such as the one at issue here are requested. While the district provides water and sewer service, among other utility functions, it also serves as a forum for the community. In the latter role, the Board generally hears matters requested by the community and from time to time sends in letters that are outside its utility purview. In this case, the community appealed last month to the Board to submit a letter opposing the use of rodenticides on the South Farallon Islands and the Board agreed to submit such a letter based on the community input at that meeting. Subsequently, Geoff Geupel and others asked if they could address the Board on this subject because the district’s letter did not reflect the views of the entire Bolinas community.
Director Amoroso commented that several years ago, when Bolinas was annexed into the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District, many in the community were upset by that district’s proposed use of pesticides to eradicate mosquitos. BCPUD stepped up and took a leadership role in fighting the application of such pesticides in West Marin, particularly because of the number of organic farms. The National Park Service and other entities joined the fight and a measure was placed on the 2008 election ballot to gauge the community sentiment on this topic – 86% of voters supported the BCPUD’s role in advocating for a non-toxic protocol and the district moved forward and eventually prevailed. Director Amoroso said he mentions this now as an example of the district acting outside its usual purview at the request of the community in a similar situation.
Geoff Geupel thanked the Board for including this item on its meeting agenda and apologized for missing the November meeting when the proposed use of rodenticides was discussed. Geoff said he hopes the Board will consider issuing either a retraction of its letter or a second letter expressing the support of other Bolinas community members for the eradication of invasive non-native mice on the Farallon Islands. He said he has lived in Bolinas for 33 years and, during his career with Point Blue (formerly PRBO Conservation Science), he has worked on all sorts of conservation/wildlife programs; in addition, he lived for a few months on the Farallon Islands. He noted that Peter Pyle, also present in the meeting room, has lived on the Farallon Islands off and on for 24 years; he further noted that Burr Heneman and David Ainley, as well as additional biologists from Point Blue, also were present in the meeting room. Geoff said they have no financial incentive in the outcome of the eradication program; they are scientists who believe strongly in the need to remove the invasive mice from the islands.
Burr Heneman echoed Geoff’s thanks to the Board for including the agenda item and apologized for not attending the November meeting. He said that he has worked in the field of island restoration via the removal of invasive alien species for many years; the field has advanced significantly over the last 40 years and invasive alien species removal is one of the best conservation tools available today. Burr acknowledged that there is non-target mortality and it is important to minimize the impact of an island restoration project on non-target species and plants. Burr described successful island restoration programs around the world and said he feels this is very different from the mosquito district battle described by director Amoroso (Burr said he very much supported the district’s position on that topic). He described the numerous endangered island species that have been restored as a result of the removal of invasive non-native species and urged the Board either to retract its previous letter or write a second letter stating that many community members in Bolinas are in favor of the invasive mice eradication proposal for the Farallon Islands.
Peter Pyle stated that he reviewed the use of pesticides in Marin County in 2013 to get some perspective on the amount of rodenticides proposed for the Farallon Islands. He said that 1/6th of a pound of rodenticides is proposed to be used on the Farallon Islands (the rodenticides will be enclosed in pellets that collectively weigh tons, but the actual amount of rodenticides proposed to be used is 1/6th of a pound); in contrast, between January and October 2013, 178 pounds of pesticides were used in Marin County to eradicate mosquitos. Overall, 64,525 pounds of pesticides were applied in Marin County during 2013, which is 390,000 times the amount of rodenticides that are proposed for the Farallon Islands. Peter further noted that Marin County has a higher carbon footprint than the rest of California. Peter said that while he would prefer no use of chemicals in Marin or elsewhere at all, this is a rare case where use of a chemical will benefit the environment in the long run – in other words, a relatively small amount of chemicals will be used to achieve a huge benefit for the future.
Discussion ensued about the number of mice at issue, the bird species identified in need of protection, the fact that environmental organizations are split on whether to support or oppose the use of rodenticides at the Farallon Islands, and whether the draft EIR sufficiently evaluated non-rodenticide alternatives to invasive mice eradication. David Ainley stated that he has lived in Bolinas since 1971, but has spent most of his time on the Farallon Islands; he noted that the problems posed by introduced animals have affected just about every island on earth. He said that only since the invention of the rodenticides has the thorough restoration of islands been possible. David expressed disappointment that the district did no consult the many scientiests in Bolinas who are familiar with the Farallon Islands before issuing its letter last month. He urged the Board, now that it has more information on the topic, to either rescind its earlier letter or write a second letter stating that there is a major scientific group within the Bolinas community that supports the restoration of the Farallon Islands. Catherine Hickey from Point Blue echoed David’s request.
Stockton Buck said he has been advocating the anti-rodenticide position for years and, although he is not an expert on island restoration, he believes that a better solution must be out there for the eradication of the invasive non-native mice. Director Amoroso noted that the draft EIR was prepared by the same company that will perform the eradication, which is very unusual; he also noted that the EPA, the American Bird Conservatory and other environmental organizations oppose the use of rodenticides.
Director Comstock said he reviewed all of the information provided for the Board’s consideration and concluded that although the goal seems laudable (removal of mice from the Farallons), the proposed approach (droppoing rat posion over the islands via helicopter) is radical. He said he feels the case has been made that the rodents need to be removed, but a persuasive case has not been made that the way to do it is via the use of rodenticides. Eleanor Lyman expressed her support for this point of view and said she is very troubled by the potential use of rodenticides – she noted that the EPA is urging that less toxic means be used.
Director Amoroso said that he is not necessarily persuaded the Board should change its letter on this topic; he suggested that if the issue is still in play next November that a measure be included on the ballot to gauge community opinion. Director Smith said he learned a lot about the topic this evening and the issues are complex; he feels the district has an obligation to submit a second letter expressing the view of those in the community present tonight. Director Comstock agreed that a second letter is warranted, as did director Godino. Director Amoroso did not object. Director Siedman concurred that a second letter would be appropriate and, based on the consensus of the Board, requested that Geoff Geupel prepare a draft supplemental letter for the Board to consider at the January meeting. Geoff suggested that the letter might state that all concerned support the eradication of the invasive non-native mice, but differ on the means.
12. Request for a Letter of Support for Marin County’s membership in the North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium (NB/NCBC), and for a California Advanced Services Fund Grant. (S. Kinsey).
Director Smith noted that Bolinas has broadband due in large part to the tireless efforts of former resident Tom Williard, who convinced the County to get fiberoptic cable into this rural area; other communities are not as fortunate. He expressed strong support for Marin County’s membership in the proposed consortium and urged the Board to approve a letter of support.
V. Amoroso/L. Comstock all in favor to issue a letter of support for Marin County’s membership in the North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium.
13. Water Supply Discussion: Contingency Planning for Potential Water Rationing; Enhanced Water Conservation Strategies.
14. Volunteer Committee Reports
-- Alternative Energy: Director Smith reported that the district will submit a claim to PG&E for the damage caused to one of its invertors as a result of a power surge earlier this year.
-- Bolinas Lagoon Advisory Committee: Nothing to report.
-- Downtown Parking & Traffic Committee: Appoint Committee Members
Michael Rafferty, Chris Weare and Stacey Henderson submitted written requests to serve on the committee. Remick Hart said that he also is interested in serving on the committee. Director Amoroso agreed to be the Board representative on the committee.
-- Resource Recovery: Nothing to report.
-- West Marin Mosquito Control Coordinating Council: Staff noted that the Board needs to appoint a director to fulfill former director Kimball’s role on the council at the January meeting and urged the directors to consider whether they would like to serve in this role.
-- Sewer Pond Land Management Committee: Staff reported that the committee held a very productive meeting at the sewer pond lease sites on December 16th with land stewardship consultant Jeff Creque. Jeff generally was complimentary of the Murchs’ farming approach and also very understanding of community concerns; he said that there is an opportunity to sequester carbon and produce food locally as well as maintain open space and walking paths for community. The committee focused on Parcels B and C and the issues of access, erosion, drainage, and crops. All access to the lease sites will be from outside of the spray fields, other than 1 - 2 times a year for the delivery of compost and will be pre-arranged with the BCPUD to ensure the sprays are not on at the time. The walking path below Parcel C (i.e., on the Sun Festival Land) will be improved by BCPUD spreading 4 – 6 inches of wood chips about 4-feet wide and tractor access will be separate. The fence lines and windbreak for Parcel C were agreed upon; in addition, Judith Lowry was present and the areas on Parcel C for her proposed restoration project were identified. The next meeting will be in late January to finalize the lease and discuss mapping/long-term land management issues.
15. Other Business
a. Board Committee Reports
-- Finance: Staff directed the Board’s attention to the first quarter balance sheet in the Board books, which inadvertently was not included in last month’s binders with the quarterly financial reports. Staff noted that hard copies of the district’s 2012-13 financial statements also are in the Board binders.
-- Legal: Nothing to report.
-- Mesa Septic, Flood Control and Roads: Nothing to report.
-- Operations: Nothing to report.
-- Park and Recreation: Staff reported that Bryan Lee is working on assembling the supplemental materials requested by the County to support Mesa Park’s coastal permit application to install the ballfield irrigation and public restroom project.
-- Personnel: Nothing to report.
-- Sewer: Nothing to report.
b. Minutes of the November 20, 2013 Regular Meeting.
Staff reported that former director Kimball submitted clarifying revisions to the November 20th minutes concerning the West Marin Mosquito Control Coordinating Council committee report.
D. Smith/V. Amoroso all in favor to approve the minutes of the November 20th regular meeting, as amended.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith all in favor to approve the warrant list.
d. Scheduling of Next Meeting(s)
January 15, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.