Concern about Enforcement of Creek Protection Ordinance - by Ralph Kanz
The City of Oakland needs your encouragement to properly enforce its
Creek Protection Ordinance. We are passing this article (from Friends
of Sausal Creek) along for your information:
As Karen Paulsell [of Friends of Sausal Creek] recently reported there
are problems with enforcement of Oakland's Creek Protection Ordinance.
Unfortunately the problem seems to be getting worse and goes far beyond
vegetation clearing for fire suppression. More than two months ago I
made a request to the City to see the Creek Permit for the Leona Quarry
project. 55 days later I finally got to see the permit. They did not
want to release the information for good reason.
The project at Leona Quarry involved work in the basin at the base of
the upper reach of Chimes Creek where it enters the quarry. Work took
place in the creek bed, including the installation of a trash rack with
significant excavation on site. The Creek Protection Ordinance lists
four categories of permits This project requires a category IV permit
because it was in the creek bed. The City chose to issue a Category II
permit. As the Creek Ordinance states a Category II permit "does not
include earthwork, and is more than one hundred (100) feet from the
center line of the creek to the location of the development or work."
The ordinance does allow for the reclassification of a category if
certain findings are made. No findings were made in this case. Claudia
Cappio, the development director for the City made the decision that
this would be a Cate gory II permit without the required findings, and
the ordinance only allows the Chief of Building Services to make the
Why the reclassification? Section 13.16.140 of the ordinance states:
"Categories I and II are ministerial actions and therefore exempt from
CEQA. Categories III and IV are discretionary actions and therefore
subject to CEQA review. Reclassification by the Chief of Building
Services is discretionary and therefore subject to CEQA review." The
reclassification was an attempt to prevent California Environmental
Quality Act (CEQA) review of the creek permit. CEQA review requires
public notification and public review of the permit. The City has
violated its own Creek Protection Permit so that a politically
connected developer can impact a creek without regards for its impact.
There are many other problems at Leona Quarry. The City has failed to
enforce the mitigation measures for the project, and the homeowners
below the project along Chimes Creek are literally seeing property wash
When will the Creek Ordinance get enforced? We will continue to see
politicians claim they support the ordinance, and that it is wonderful,
but without real enforcement it is meaningless.
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