This June 23 meeting marked the Commission’s second virtual meeting. The meeting, using the videoconferencing service Zoom, was a success. The staff reports and public comment letters associated with our meeting are available here. The Executive Officer’s report, with updates on non-agenda items, such as oil and gas decommissioning projects, Hollister Ranch public access, the Tijuana River Valley pollution crisis, offshore renewable energy applications, and other items is available here. Below are highlights from the June meeting.
Staff provided an informational update on efforts to develop the Commission’s next Strategic Plan. The Commission’s consultant, Stantec, has been meeting with Commission staff to gather contact information and develop discussion points with stakeholders. Stantec envisions conducting virtual interviews with stakeholders and small focus groups of stakeholders with common interests. The small group meetings allow stakeholders to build off one another’s comments and discussion. Stantec is scheduling and conducting these individual and small focus group stakeholder interviews and will soon begin interviews with the Commissioners and staff. Staff anticipates providing a draft Strategic Plan for public comment later this summer.
Native American Tribal Land Return
The Commission, in a first of its kind action, returned roughly 40 acres of land in Inyo County to the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation to preserve and protect tribal cultural resources. As background, in December 2019, the Commission issued a lease, archeological permit, and authorized the sale of 17.13 areas of land to Caltrans for its U.S. Highway 395 improvement project. The parcel that Caltrans purchased has significant cultural value to the Reservation and is within their ancestral territory. The Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation identified adjacent land, the roughly 40 acres returned today, that would preserve the Tribes’ connection to the site and protect it from potential future harm. As Commission Chair and State Controller Betty T. Yee stated: “Returning this land to the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone people reflects our deep respect for Native Californians and their ancestral homes. We are genuinely committed to continuing the open dialogue between governments as pledged in our Tribal Consultation Policy.”
And as Ms. Katherine Jefferson Bancroft, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation stated: “As stewards of this land for millennia, the people of Payahuunadü will continue to maintain and protect all of our traditional homeland for future generations. Returning this parcel to the Tribe will acknowledge the role indigenous people played in shaping this valley and the history we all share. The transfer of title enables the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation opportunities for more effective protection and education of tribal members and the general public on cultural significance of all of our lands and the perpetuation of our cultural heritage.”
Paradise Cove in Malibu
Paradise Cove, the setting for many beach scenes in Hollywood movies, is a beautiful public beach in Malibu. The Commission authorized a lease for the use and maintenance of the Paradise Cove Pier. The lease assures unimpeded and free public access from Pacific Coast Highway, along Paradise Cove Road, to the public lands in this area for surfing, paddleboarder, kayaking, and other recreational activities. The lease requires that the lessee make available at all times at least two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking spaces at no cost to the public or the State. The lease also requires public access signage to be maintained in good condition and prohibits any signs that may be interpreted as prohibiting or deterring public access along Paradise Cove Road, the lease premises, or adjacent public lands, including the beach below the mean high-tide line.
The Commission approved a new dry gas price agreement with the City of Long Beach involving the Long Beach oil and gas operations at the Wilmington Oil Field in Los Angeles County. The Commission also approved 2020 benchmark rental rates for sovereign land in the Petaluma River in Marin County, which will inform recommended rents for leases authorizing the use and occupation of sovereign land in the Petaluma River.
The Executive Officer reported that the Commission is suspending plug and abandoning operations on Platform Holly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have evaluated different approaches to continue with the work while maintaining physical distancing requirements and keeping workers safe. But because of the relatively small size of the platform and the number of personnel needed on the platform during the plug and abandonment work, we can not ensure worker safety consistent with state requirements. Our contractor will remain on-site during this temporary suspension for operations, maintenance, and security purposes.
The Commission’s next public meeting is August 20, 2020. This will likely be a virtual meeting as well. We will update our website as the date nears and more information is available about the time, meeting format, and agenda.