MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALAMEDA COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
STREAM MANAGEMENT MASTER PLAN AMENDMENT WORKSHOP
August 28, 2018
The following were present:
DIRECTORS: ANGELA RAMIREZ HOLMES
ZONE 7 STAFF: VALERIE PRYOR, GENERAL MANAGER
CAROL MAHONEY, INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGER
JOE SETO, FLOOD CONTROL MANAGER
JEFF TANG, ASSOCIATE CIVIL ENGINEER
AMANDA ROGERS, MINUTES TAKER
COUNSEL: DAVID ALADJEM, DOWNEY BRAND
Item 1 -
CALL ZONE 7 WATER AGENCY MEETING TO ORDER
President Ramirez Holmes called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.
Item 2 -
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
President Ramirez Holmes led the Salute to the Flag.
Item 3 -
There were no public comments.
Item 4 -
SMMP AMENDMENT WORKSHOP
Valerie Pryor, General Manager, introduced this item stating that the purpose of this workshop is to update the Board on the status of the Stream Management Master Plan (SMMP) and the Amendment and to get direction from the Board regarding the SMMP Amendment. Based on the input from the Board, staff will have a framework of the Board's goals and objectives and will be able to determine which projects might be needed to meet those goals and objectives based on the recent hydrologic/hydraulic modeling.
Carol Mahoney, Integrated Water Resources Manager, gave the presentation on the SMMP Amendment. She gave a bit of background on Zone 7's flood control system and noted that Zone 7 currently owns 37 miles of channels in its service area. She explained that revenue for flood control comes from two funds: 1) Fund 200, which comes from property taxes and has unrestricted use for operations, maintenance, and capital projects; and 2) Fund 210, which come from development impact fees and is restricted to new development impacts. Ms. Mahoney focused mostly on Fund 200 because that's where the Agency's operating expenses come from and it is an unrestricted fund that can be used for both capital projects and maintenance. She, also, went a bit deeper into the SMMP's background and explained that the SMMP Amendment was developed to focus on reduction of flood risk, meeting water quality, water supply, groundwater recharge, and sedimentation and erosion objectives for the watershed while remaining ecologically sensitive and fiscally responsible. Ms. Mahoney discussed some of the potential projects requiring Board direction, noting that for some areas, the property owners may not want Zone 7 to come in and do work.
Ms. Pryor turned the discussion over to general counsel to discuss Zone 7's authority, stating that the Agency does have broad authority under the District Act, which gives the Agency some discretion as to which responsibilities it chooses to undertake, but Zone 7's authority does not include land use.
David Aladjem, General Counsel, confirmed Ms. Pryor's description of the Board's authority stating that the Agency has very broad authority to engage in projects; do planning; and work with other agencies, cities, and private companies to do flood attenuation or other flood management projects. The Agency also has the ability to impose charges for those services.
Ms. Pryor requested policy direction from the Board regarding the level of responsibility the Agency wants to assume. The Agency's ongoing level of maintenance and repairs is supported by its current level of funding, however, if those responsibilities were to expand, the Agency would likely need new revenue sources. Considerations include the types of facilities to address and the level of flood protection we should have for those facilities. In addition, the Agency could use its modeling to help other agencies with their projects; or could add the maintenance of additional channel miles to its currently owned 37 miles of channels. Ms. Pryor requested policy direction from the Board and, based on that, staff would develop a list of projects and costs for the potential Amendment. Once that Amendment is approved by the Board, it would become the basis for the developer impact fee study, which has two components: 1) calculating the developer impact fee for the portion of the costs that are attributable to new development, and 2) analyze the remaining costs and develop a financial strategy for those costs.
President Ramirez Holmes asked for questions from the Board.
Director Figuers asked how many buildings are at risk of having water enter them.
Ms. Mahoney replied that staff did a HAZUS analysis for each potential flooding area per FEMA protocol. One of the elements that can be explored in the analysis is how many parcels will be affected. The analysis identifies whether an area is within a floodplain, gives an estimate of the overall flood impact, and determines potential benefit if a project was implemented to remove the area from the floodplain.
Director Figuers clarified that he is not talking about future projects, but existing ones. He wanted to know if, in the event of a 100-year flood, streets would flood and water would flow into houses.
Ms. Pryor replied that staff doesn't have an answer readily available to that question.
Mr. Aladjem explained that part of the issue with flooding numbers is that FEMA looks at specific projects and has very specific rules about flood routing and timing. Staff would have to go back and look at those, which may not be realistic.
Director Figuers explained that he was interested, not in what FEMA does, but in Zone 7's own flooding analysis. He asked if Zone 7's model was sufficiently accurate to be able to show that kind of detail.
Ms. Mahoney replied that this is a planning-level model. It is on a gross scale and it is looking at the entire region. It can show buildings that may be touched by flooding, but may not be able to get down to the level of detail of a project-level model.
Mr. Aladjem added that part of that analysis is to give the Board an overall sense of where there may be flooding as opposed to being able to look at which houses would flood and which ones wouldn't.
Director Figuers felt that level of detail was needed in order to justify spending maybe a $100 million dollars for flood reduction versus doing nothing at all.
President Ramirez Holmes said she understood staff to mean that they would have that level of detail available by the time the projects were determined. She asked for more information on where the biggest risks are and whether that is by reach or something else.
Director Palmer asked what the Agency's liability could be for future projects that are not finished or that have unanticipated damage.
Mr. Aladjem replied that the general rule in California is that we would not be liable if a storm event happens which exceeds the intended capacity of the project. He added that staff is trying to define the appropriate storm events and the appropriate ways to manage them in the SMMP. That is a way to manage liability.
Director Quigley thanked staff for sharing the update. He stated that projects need to be evaluated on a risk/reward basis. He thought that we may be underutilizing the Del Valle dam, reminding attendees that holding water back and protecting the public is what our charter is about. Citing examples like trails and choke points, he said the SMMP has done some really noble work, which is good policy. He encouraged the building of partnerships with our neighbors. In addition, he said that it would be prudent for us to know how many houses are in danger and where the choke points are located and then for the Board to set up, as a policy, a guide for those areas. He felt that he could support a policy that had a dimension of partnership in it.
Director Stevens commented that the original SMMP contained a list of projects that the Agency couldn't afford. The Agency's limited funding meant that projects had to be prioritized and could only be in areas that were feasible to get into. The Agency doesn't have the funds at current levels to do effective flood control in the valley, which means we have to look at what our goals are and where we want to go with this Program. The Agency is responsible for only 37 miles of channels. He asked how many miles of channels there were total.
Ms. Mahoney replied that in the 1966 Flood Control Master Plan, they identified 120 miles of potential channels that could be used for flood protection.
Director Stevens said that flooding is not that much of a concern in the valley. However, damage done by 20-, 30-, or 40-year storms, where the water velocity is very fast and the stream banks start washing out, differ from 100- or 1000-year floods, where water flows very slowly. Reducing flows to stop the creek banks from washing out is a very complicated subject. Do we want to increase the taxes on all the parcels to have a more effective flood control? Right now we cannot with the money and land that we have. He added that houses falling into a creek were of more concern to him than houses getting flooded.
Director Sanwong felt that it would be helpful to take into consideration the natural history of the valley and the areas that are historically more prone to flooding. She also had questions about the model. Do we own this model? Did we design it? Or did an engineering firm design it? Because of the variables, are we able to run different scenarios to see where there might be a greater potential for flooding? She thought it would be helpful, when prioritizing projects, to run different scenarios and improve the level of visualization.
Ms. Mahoney replied that the model is a compilation of staff and consultant efforts and has been peer reviewed. Staff wanted to make sure the model was consistent upstream and downstream so it was discussed with Contra Costa Flood Control and downstream Alameda County Flood Control to make sure Zone 7's information was consistent with theirs.
Director Sanwong asked if we have the ability in-house to run different scenarios, or if we always have to use consultants.
Ms. Mahoney responded that it's a large complicated model. It takes about seven hours to run one scenario; and staff is being trained how to do that. The Agency has the capability to run some models in-house, however, complex subprojects need to be done by an outside consultant at this time until staff is fully trained.
Director Gambs added that, regarding the flood reoccurrence issue, the policy has always been 100-year containment in a channel. Another important issue is flood insurance. FEMA has based their flood insurance on there not being structures in a 100-year flood. He felt that an important consideration would be designing the flood control system so that homeowners and property owners don't have to pay flood insurance, which in some cases may mean that there is out-of-bank flooding. He said that city storm drain systems aren't designed for 100-year levels of flooding. He pointed out that the use of Lakes H or I in the Chain of Lakes have always been Zone 7's plan and could be used for multiple purposes of water and flood. He added that the channelization and urbanization impervious development in the valley has changed flows downstream. It has caused down cutting, which no project is currently looking at. Down cutting will continue unless something is done. Eventually it's going to be a problem and should not be ignored. He recommended that the Agency work with the cities since they are the leaders on how to tackle this issue. Finally, he said that we shouldn't avoid putting a project on the list just because we don't know where the funding will come from. If it's important, keep it on a list. Priorities will change over time and, historically, the Program hasn't ever been fully funded.
President Ramirez Holmes said that we're missing the status of what we were able to get done and how effective that was. She questioned what is meant in our mission by "effective" flood control. Does that mean for the 37 miles of channel we own or for the entire valley? She said the first goal is to identify the 45 projects; and she asked over what period time they were anticipated to be completed.
Ms. Mahoney replied that the assumption was that it was going to be at least a 30-year plan.
President Ramirez Holmes asked, out of the 45 projects, how many projects were completed since 2006.
Ms. Mahoney replied that ten projects were completed.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if an analysis has been done on the remaining projects to determine whether those projects are something we still want to pursue.
Ms. Pryor replied that staff has done a preliminary analysis but we don't want to finalize that list without some sort of policy direction.
President Ramirez Holmes assumed that some projects had dropped off based on updated information in the past 12 years.
Ms. Pryor and Ms. Mahoney affirmed that was correct.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if the potential project areas with regional flood benefits are our own channels or if they have downstream or upstream benefits.
Ms. Mahoney replied that these are areas that the Agency largely owns some portion of or that we feel has significant regional impact and the benefit is great enough that we should explore a project there.
Ms. Pryor added that for each of these reaches we could develop a suite of projects. Some would be on our facilities and some would require us to acquire other land or facilities.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if the Agency owns all those channels.
Ms. Mahoney replied that portions of them are owned by Zone 7, except for the upstream flood attenuation.
President Ramirez Holmes noted that the Board recently approved some additional modeling and wondered how that impacts this study and when we plan to share that modeling with interested parties.
Ms. Pryor replied that further inquiry as to when we would be able to effectively use that data would be needed. As far as sharing, based on direction from the Board, staff will plan outreach to stakeholders and get their input.
Ms. Mahoney added that there was really good flow data for most of the streams. Most of the reaches have a decent gauge but there might be sections where staff has to estimate what is happening in an adjoining reach. We have the full sum of the flow but we don't have information on individual areas. By adding gauges we are able to get that finer detail. She also added that this data is available to each of the cities and stated that staff has met with each city individually trying to make sure the cities understand what our modeling showed and what impacts that might have to the cities' own systems. Some of the cities are doing their own storm drain modeling and are trying to understand their own local impacts.
President Ramirez Holmes commented that the problem is that all the channels are interconnected. She asked that if the Agency doesn't take responsibility for a particular stream because we don't own it, is it up to private property owners to determine that. What has been our policy in regards to that?
Ms. Mahoney answered that the older policies from the 60s and 70s state that if it's privately owned, from a maintenance perspective, we don't maintain it. If there are areas where we see the potential for benefit for the greater good, a more regional project, then Zone 7 has the authority to facilitate a project in that area. However, we still have to ask permission to go on to private property to facilitate a project.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if Zone 7 has been able to advise cities regarding their plans and impacts, particularly downstream.
Ms. Mahoney replied, yes, when we are asked. She noted that there have been some projects that have moved forward without the Agency's knowledge so staff was not aware of them until they were already in construction.
Director Palmer asked if there was some way we could, through the Liaison Committee or some kind of action, get cooperation from other agencies in the valley and pool our information and data in order to coordinate more effectively.
President Ramirez Holmes mentioned that she would like to see the Agency become the flood protection leader for the valley and that actively advising the cities could potentially prevent us from having to do mitigation projects later.
Director Palmer felt that there may be some unintentional communication blocks that we should proactively seek to overcome.
Ms. Mahoney commented that some of the projects didn't intend initially to do any work in a channel, but they evolved to include trails or access, for example. When these unintended additions happen, suddenly Zone 7 is involved and we are trying to figure out what can be done, if anything, at the eleventh hour. Sometimes a project has progressed to the point where the city and the developer refuse to back up to re-evaluate options.
President Ramirez Holmes opened the floor for public comments.
Linda Kelly, a Pleasanton resident, thanked staff for televising the meeting so that it will be available to members of the public who weren't able to attend. She expressed concern about projects done by the cities that have progressed to the point where they have already gone to the developer and the damage is done. She requested that Zone 7 be more proactive in opening up the lines of communication with the cities.
President Ramirez Holmes suggested that the Board take a look at the goals of the SMMP and see if they still apply.
Director Figuers questioned the meaning of the Agency's mission of "effective flood control." He asked legal counsel what the word "effective" means legally.
Mr. Aladjem answered that the word "effective" doesn't usually come up in the flood control context. The word "reasonable" does and he interpreted the word "effective" to mean "reasonable."
Director Figuers stated that erosion and sedimentation is not a flood problem. He would like to see a matrix for each project identifying how that project addresses the six SMMP goals. This would give the Board the ability to better understand which projects to pursue with our limited funds.
Director Sanwong suggested using the term "balance score card" instead of "matrix." She agreed that it would be a good way to keep track of ideas and help the Board prioritize where to focus. She also recommended adding a funding component to that balance score card. In addition, she felt it would be helpful to see a breakdown of the total commercial versus residential property taxes. Director Sanwong felt the maps were very static and wants to see something more dynamic. She asked if there is a way to make a less-detailed model that is more dynamic so that the Board can more easily see the downstream areas where there is potential impact in order to help them prioritize. She asked if we are trying to set a policy for 100 years and said it would be helpful if there is a 100-year scenario showing where most of the impact is going to be.
Ms. Pryor replied that we can't make the model run much faster. However, one option, with enough staff time, could be for each of those ten reaches to model a 25- and 100-year storm, and also for each of those scenarios to identify the number of buildings that might be at risk.
Director Sanwong asked if this reach is going from upstream to downstream.
Ms. Mahoney explained that as the reaches are created, one section of watershed is going to have a confluence point and you take the amount of flow that is coming out of that point before routing it through the next section of the model. Each section of the model is additive so that by the time it exits out of the valley it shows the culmination of all the flow or lack thereof and if it has been stored or attenuated into the groundwater basin.
Director Quigley felt it would be helpful to see the public benefits of the ten completed projects. He added that the Agency is not in business to protect against street flooding. That is the function of city storm drains. He expressed concern over starting to monitor private drains when there are houses that are falling over channels. He asked if our model was parallel or FEMA acceptable.
Ms. Mahoney responded that, yes, it's based on Alameda County's hydrology manual. Since they are the land-use planner for unincorporated areas in the County, they are the FEMA implementers and floodplain managers. Staff made sure that the models are compatible; and by using the same methodology that the County had established in their hydrology manuals, a city or the County could take our model and use it to discuss land-usage issues with FEMA. Because Zone 7 cannot perform land-use planning and is not a floodplain manager, we don't have the ability to change an established FEMA floodplain.
Director Stevens stated that staff's plan is to attenuate upstream water flow before it reaches down to Pleasanton.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if that was one potential project.
Ms. Pryor responded that they are all potential projects and staff doesn't have a specific plan yet.
Director Stevens said that they are all attenuation. They are all made for storage and to reduce the amount of flow as it goes down into fewer channels. He thought that it makes total sense and that the Agency should proceed with that idea. He offered three other suggestions for the Board's consideration: 1) aggressively pursue getting at least one or two more Chain of Lakes now, which means we are going to have to fight the mining permit; 2) increase the obtaining of easements and purchasing of drainage areas and channels when it is economical and makes sense, which could increase the Agency's ability to protect the valley; and 3) research what it will take to become the flood control manager of the entire valley.
President Ramirez Holmes asked for Director Steven's feedback as to whether the SMMP should address those suggestions and which ones he would like to see prioritized or dropped off.
Director Stevens was not sure if his suggestions were SMMP goals or flood control goals. He questioned whether SMMP's main function was flood control.
Ms. Mahoney replied that it was multi-benefit.
President Ramirez Holmes asked if staff has decided to keep the same goals of the SMMP.
Ms. Pryor responded that, for the purposes of the SMMP Amendment, they are sticking with the same goals and objectives, updating the modeling, and looking at potential projects within these goals and objectives. That's the work that's been done to date but that does not mean that the Board couldn't revisit the goals and objectives.
President Ramirez Holmes suggested prioritizing projects on channels that we own or have an easement on given the Agency's limited funding. We shouldn't start another project before taking care of what we already own. We, also, need to continue to update the CEQA requirements and other climate change issues. Furthermore, we need to discuss the idea of Zone 7 being the valley leader in flood control; and we need to get more aggressive on advising on city plans and downstream impacts. We have to try to do mitigation on the front end. Given what the Agency has dealt with the past couple of years, there was potential to solve those issues before they occurred. It's the direction the Agency must take; otherwise, we will continue to do cleanup instead trying to get in front of problems. Regarding the Chain of Lakes, there is a need to identify what has changed since 2006. What is the current and future use? What are we currently using and what projects could speed that up? President Ramirez Holmes didn't feel that the mining permit could be stopped. She asked how the Chain of Lakes evaluation matched up to the goals of the SMMP. That is an update the Board needs. We, also, want to get a better status update on projects taking place within the matrix/score card. Have we addressed these policy concerns from 2006? She felt that there wasn't enough status update information on those items.
Ms. Pryor answered that staff will look into that and come back to the Board with the answers. Regarding the Chain of Lakes, a staff working group has recently been established with various members of staff from various departments and sections and they are going to look at what's changed and what opportunities there are in the future.
Director Figuers proposed that Zone 7 divest itself from flood control completely and give it back to the County.
President Ramirez Holmes felt that would make a great topic to talk about at the retreat.
Director Stevens asked legal counsel if Zone 7 could have land-use authority.
Mr. Aladjem replied that the legislature can enact whatever law it would like and they can give Zone 7 land-use authority, but the obstacles to that are quite large.
Director Figuers said that he was not advocating getting rid of flood control, but is putting it out as an option.
President Ramirez Holmes said that option did come up during discussions of Zone 7's independence from the County.
Director Gambs said that funding source was an important part of the SMMP goals and objectives. It's a missing factor in deciding what a policy should be. He mentioned that habitat and environment, if separated from channel work, could compete for tax monies. However, the environmental work that goes along with channels is coequal to channel work and will happen as part of the project. Lastly, he said that trails and recreation have never been funded by Zone 7. However, Zone 7 has been cooperating with cities and other agencies since 1966 to accommodate recreation facilities as much as possible. The community wants trails and the Agency needs to accommodate and work with them. He suggested restructuring the language of the SMMP so that the funding isn't coming from us as much.
President Ramirez Holmes mentioned that our mission talks about doing things in an environmentally-sound way. However, trails are not in the mission. Yes, the public wants trails, but in terms of policy, there has never been direction from the Board to fund those ourselves. She suggested that this is another potential item for the retreat.
Director Gambs responded that there is no choice with channels. You have to manage them in an environmentally-sensitive way. However, anything we are not required to do competes for funding. While trails and recreation isn't in our mission statement, it is in the District Act; so we can actually decide to do recreation.
President Ramirez Holmes said that changing the mission of the Zone would have to be discussed at a separate time. What the public wants is important but we also need to balance that with the mission of the Agency. The public may want something that they can get from another agency.
Director Palmer remarked that the SMMP is a master plan and it can sometimes take us outside of our 37 miles because we have to communicate and work with other agencies. In terms of our specific goals, we don't want to keep them too specific because it is an overall plan.
Director Stevens said that this plan is attached to other plans that may be applying for grant applications so we have to be careful how we word our language because grantors want to see habitat and environmental considerations included.
Director Quigley encouraged staff to think about renaming the SMMP to ISMMP (Integrated Stream Management Master Plan). He felt that adding the word "integrated" may help us because it dovetails with IRWMP, which we use for grants.
The Board recessed for a short break at 7:07 p.m. before going into closed session.
Item 5 - Closed Session
(a) Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing litigation pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(d)(1): 2 cases
(1) Zone 7 v. Bhupinder Singh, et al., Alameda County case no. RG17862001 and related cross action
(2) Edwin Belshe and Ginger Belshe v. Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7, et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG17868354
Item 6 -
The Board came out of closed session at 7:37 p.m. and President Ramirez Holmes stated that there was nothing to report.
President Ramirez Holmes adjourned the meeting at 7:38 p.m.