Governor Newsom Signs AB 2809 By Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Bill enacts State Auditor’s performance measures for the
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

Governor Newsom Signs AB 2809 By Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin

Sacramento – Governor Newsom has signed AB 2809, a bipartisan measure led by Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin. The new law enacts recommendations made by the California State Auditor in its 2019 report to improve the performance of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). The bill passed out of the Assembly and Senate without single no vote.

“The State Auditor’s report identified some critical areas where BCDC got off track,” Speaker pro Tem Mullin pointed out. “My colleagues and I saw the need for legislation to ensure that the Auditor’s recommendations were formalized, and BCDC could re-focus on its key responsibilities related to consistent enforcement and its core mission to protect the overall health and environment of the San Francisco Bay and Suisun Marsh.”    

Starting in 2017, several legislative offices received numerous constituent and stakeholder complaints involving BCDC’s enforcement activity. After evaluating the many complaints, a request for an audit of BCDC was made and subsequently approved by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in 2018. The State Auditor’s Office released its findings in May 2019 indicating the Commission had not provided adequate oversight to staff, and BCDC had struggled to perform key responsibilities related to the protection of the Bay and Suisun Marsh.  Specifically, inconsistent application of its own regulations compounded efforts to resolve violations and created challenges with enforcement actions.  

AB 2809 requires BCDC to create and implement procedures to provide managerial review of staff decisions in enforcement cases, timelines for resolving enforcement cases, a penalty matrix for assessing fines and civil penalties, and a method for assessing civil penalties in cases involving multiple violations.  The bill also directs BCDC to perform and complete the required review of the Suisun Marsh local protection program by no later than July 1, 2025, and to perform successive reviews under the act every 5 years.

The bipartisan coalition working with Mullin includes Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido), Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), and Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), all co-authors of AB 2809.

“I was proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to rein in BCDC’s out-of-control, overzealous, biased enforcement actions,” said Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron. “AB 2809 ensures BCDC will meet its statutory duties, while also protecting citizens and small businesses.”

“AB 2809 brings much-needed reforms to the BCDC to ensure that the laws to protect our Bay are enforced in a fair, transparent and timely manner,” said State Senator Jerry Hill. “The legislation signed into law by our Governor sets clear requirements for BCDC’s accountability for the actions it takes to fulfill its responsibilities as the steward of our precious and vital resource. I am a proud co-author of AB 2809 and thank Assemblymember Mullin for his leadership to better protect our Bay.”

“The State Auditor identified much needed reforms to ensure that BCDC is able to effectively, efficiently, and equitably enforce the law. AB 2809 will ensure that BCDC is better equipped to do its job,” added Assemblymember Marc Berman.

“Every day we are reminded of the importance of preserving our natural resources,” Mullin stated. “It’s critically important that BCDC takes the necessary steps laid out in AB 2809 and the State Auditor’s report so they may regain the public’s trust to not only successfully fulfill its mandate,  but to also address the issue of sea level rise.”