SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The state agency tasked with protecting the San Francisco Bay is being accused of doing the exact opposite in a new report.
A state audit released Tuesday says the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is failing to protect the bay from hundreds of violations. State auditors call BCDC negligent and say it has been slow to crack down on polluters. There are 230 open cases, some have been open for 17 years, the state anticipates that backlog will grow.
“BCDC needs to up it’s game. We need to be sure we’re better about enforcement and that the way we do it is transparent,” BCDC’s Executive Director Larry Goldzband said.
Goldzband says he’s confident the agency can turn things around, but says that will require more staff and more state money.
“We will work to get more resources to actually get compliance so problems don’t fester, that way we can resolve them before they become big problems,” Goldzband said.
“The mandate of BCDC is a great one, but they’ve lost their way, they’re badly organized and there’s a lack of oversight,” Co-Founder of Bay Stewardship Alliance Peter Blackmore said.
Blackmore helped found the Alliance a year and a half ago out of an abundance of concern that BCDC was failing to protect the Bay. Blackmore says this report “just highlights more and more problems that they need to change.”
One of the main concerns found in the state audit is a large number of abandoned boats in Richardson Bay in Sausalito. There are 200 boats in the water now, a problem that was pointed out to BCDC back in 2010, many have sunk to the bottom releasing potentially harmful pollutants.
The Coast Guard also alerted BCDC to a tugboat that was deteriorating and at risk of releasing hazardous chemicals back in 2013, that tugboat is still in the bay and is starting to sink.
“Those of us who are in the waterfront community of the bay know there has been a serious problem for a long long time,” President of Westpoint Harbor, Mark Sanders said.
His concern is that BCDC focuses on small fines rather than on its large backlog of violators. He’s been fined by BCDC 100 times for things like allowing the fire department to park in the Marina lot, or installing doggy bags along the docks. He says Larry Goldzband should step down.
“If you have a leadership problem start at the top, that’s where the problem is,” Sanders said.
Goldzband says he has no intentions of stepping down. BCDC will hold a public meeting Thursday where it will discuss the best ways to come into compliance.