Did the City violate its own Creek Protection Ordinance? The answer is evident in the evasion and refusal by the City to explain why they issued a low level, administrative Category II Creek Permit for major earthwork undertaken in the Ridgemont Basin. In the following email to Friends of Sausal Creek, Ralph Kanz explains why this permit should not have been issued as a Category II.
From: "Ralph Kanz" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 08:48:18 -0800
Subject: Creek Ordinance
As Karen Paulsell 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 Category II permit without the required findings, and the ordinance only allows the Chief of Building Services to make the decision.
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 away.
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.
The Ridgemont Basin is located at the base of the upper reaches of Chimes Creek where it enters the Quarry. (Click thumbnail to see full size image)
Click on the links to see full text
- 28 Nov 2005
Re: Creek Permit for Ridgemont Basin ("...since ...this situation may have crossed a legal line, I would like the name of the official that made the determination that a category II permit was all that was required for this work and their reasoning.")
- 21 Nov 2005
Re: Creek Permit for Ridgemont Basin (Ron assures us that they are investigating the facts and will have an answer "early this week.")
- 09 Nov 2005
Re: Creek Permit for Ridgemont Basin (For the first time, the City confirms in writing that a Category II Permit was issued for this work.)
- 21 Oct 2005 for Public Records (In response to a Public Records Request originally filed in early September, Maziar is able to provide a copy of the Permit in late October.)
- 11 Aug 2005
Re: Creek Permit for Ridgemont Basin (Responding for Lesley Estes, Ali says she knows a permit was issued for this work but has no further details until Lesley Estes returns on August 22. She promises to find out, but we never hear from her again.)
- 20 Jul 2005
Re: Update on work in the Ridgemont Basin
- 23 Mar 2005
Re: Detention Pond Overflow and Work in the Basin Area
Here are pictures of the completed work done (as of early November, 2005) in the Ridgemont Basin.
This is the work that the City halted to sort out if a Creek Permit was
needed etc etc. The pictures show water that is contiguous to the Creek
above about five feet from the structure. The structure is surrounded by
saturated soil and is full of water inside.
They must have had creek water flowing directly into their excavation as they were working.
They regraded the whole front section of the basin, buried a multi-ton precast structure 10- 15 feet under ground and it was all done 10-20 feet from the creek in the Ridgemont basin...apparently all with no earthwork!
The attached pictures show contiguous water from the creek about 5 feet from the structure. Those metal bollards define a large underground concrete structure that they put in.