February 28, 2023 Meeting Highlights

The February meeting, our first of the year and the first with our new Commissioner, State Controller Malia Cohen, took place virtually and in Sacramento. The staff reports and comment letters from our meeting are available on the Commission’s website. The Executive Officer’s Report has additional information about an array of initiatives and projects the Commission is leading or involved in, including seminal oil and gas decommissioning projects in Southern California and offshore wind energy development updates. Below are highlights from our meeting

New Solar Energy Facility

The Commission issued a lease to Windhub Solar B, LLC for a new solar energy facility in Kern County that will generate roughly 20 megawatts of renewable energy and 160 megawatt-hours of a battery energy storage system. The project will supply a new renewable energy source to help California meet the growing demand for clean, safe, renewable electrical power, contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and support economic development in Kern County. Portions of the project area that contain Joshua Trees and desert tortoise habitat are excluded from development and will be a fenced Joshua Tree grove that is being protected as part of the project. The lease requires annual monitoring of the Joshua Tree grove and a Joshua Tree Preservation Plan.

New Regional Fire Fighter Training Facility in the City of San Francisco

The Commission authorized the Port of San Francisco to convey 2.6 acres of land to the City of San Francisco for a new regional fire training facility. The City will combine the parcels with adjacent privately owned lands the City is acquiring for the location of a new San Francisco Fire Department training facility. The port parcels are vacant, unleased land comprising two paper streets and a railroad remainder parcel. A paper street is an area that was designated to be a public street on a historic map. Most were never built or have long been abandoned as a public right-of-way but remain public trust property. The Commission made a series of findings to enable the sale, including that the port would receive fair market value for the land. A new fire training facility is necessary to replace an existing facility on Treasure Island that will be demolished in 2025 when the Island is developed. About 1,700 firefighters use the Treasure Island and a separate auxiliary fire training facility annually.

Opposition to New Oil and Gas Leasing in the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf

The Commission adopted a support position on the West Coast Ocean Protection Act introduced in the 118th Congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Huffman. This legislation would permanently ban new offshore oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Spawning and Rearing Habitat Restoration

The Commission issued a lease to the US Department of the Interior to restore and rehabilitate 17 sites in the bed of the Sacramento River and floodplain to improve wildlife and aquatic habitats. The activities authorized in the lease will have lasting benefits on aquatic, terrestrial, and riparian species by improving degraded habitat and will provide new habitat for Chinook Salmon and steelhead. This will increase fish populations in the Sacramento River and the larger environmental ecosystem.

Levee Improvement and Bayfront Recycled Water Facility Project

The Commission issued a lease the West Bay Sanitary District to construct, use, and maintain an ecotone levee and a bayfront recycled water facility project. An ecotone levee, an innovative nature-based adaptation measure, can provide transition zone habitat that is important for high-water refuge and habitat connectivity and attenuate waves to reduce levee erosion. The project, partially funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, will protect against accidental discharge of wastewater into neighboring communities and the San Francisco Bay and create habitat for endangered species.

California-American Water Company Exploratory Test Slant Water Well

The Commission amended a lease to the California-American Water Company for continued maintenance of a temporary exploratory test slant water well in Monterey County. The amendment extends the lease by five years and revises and strengthens the lease decommissioning requirements.

State Legislation

Staff briefed the Commission about two legislative proposals for the 2023-24 legislative session. The first proposal would authorize the Commission to convey to the City of Alameda, in trust, lands exchanged into the public trust through exchange agreements, including the recently approved Encinal Terminals land exchange, to facilitate new housing and other bayfront recreational amenities for the public. The second proposal would modernize the Commission’s solid mineral permitting and leasing statutory framework and ensure that the approval process for a mineral extraction lease is transparent and inclusive, with ample opportunity for public outreach and tribal consultation.

Future Meetings and Ways to Stay Informed

The Commission’s next meeting will be in April or May. You can sign up on our website to receive updates about future Commission meetings. Another great way to stay informed is to follow the State Lands Commission on social media. You can also watch a webcast of the meeting on Cal-Span.org.