The East Bay Chapter of CNPS holds one seat on a 12 seat Public Advisory Committee for the implementation of the Eastern Contra Costa Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The goal of this committee is to provide input on the function of the HCP Conservancy. The group consists of representatives from 4 groups: environmental, developer, local landowner, and agriculturalist/conservation easement holders. Quarterly meetings provide a venue in which new information is reported as well as open discussion on topics that arise which have not been covered by the original document. The last meeting on November 10th continued to address the difficult question of whether “non-covered activities” should be allowed to provide mitigation credits to the HCP. The governing committee of the HCP asked that the Advisory Committee provide a recommendation for dealing with this issue.

Some of the examples presented indicate that this would be a good idea. For example, CalTrans required a small permit to allow for road widening for improving safety on a small section of rural roadway. Other such “non-covered activities” present a more difficult conundrum.  Notably, the Antioch question.

Antioch was a non participant in the HCP process.  All other local agencies and cities helped participate and pay for this plan, whereas Antioch flat out said “No thanks.”  Well, we moved forward with this giant (geographical) hole. The plan was eventually completed and the exclusion of Antioch worked perfectly fine. Now, Johnny-come-lately would like to obtain permits and guarantees from the HCP for new development.

EBCNPS disapproves of this recommendation. We were the only member at the table that asked that consideration for Antioch projects be removed from this recommendation. A fair discussion ensued, but in the end, John Kopchik, head of the HCP Conservancy didn’t feel this was the place to discuss this topic. We still disagree. The camel’s nose is under the tent. Allowing a non-participating (opposing the initial plan) agency to “opt-into” the plan when it is convenient for them sets terrible precedent. It allows for the City and its developers to benefit from the hard work of others without bringing any value to the table.  No sweat, no blood – just glory (in the form of permits and “pre-approved mitigations”).

EBCNPS will be writing a letter to the Advisory Committee and Governing Committee asking that this question continue to be discussed before any recommendations are forwarded for approval.

Please see item 2b – “Mitigating non-covered activities” for more information by clicking here.