DPC Minutes 2024-01-18

Summary Meeting Minutes
Delta Protection Commission

Thursday, January 18, 2024, 5 p.m.

University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, 110 West Fremont Street, Stockton, CA 95202

Administrative Agenda

1. Call to order and Flag Salute

Vice Chair Vasquez called the meeting to order at 5:01 p.m. and led the meeting participants in a flag salute.

2. Welcome and Roll Call

Commission Staff Member Debra Waltman called the roll. Present at roll call: Vice Chair Vasquez, Commissioners Villegas, Kott, Steele, Slater, Paroli, Eddie (for Ross), and Vogel (for Crowfoot), Udang (for Eggman) and Steve Sievers (for Villapudua). Commissioner Bugsch (for Lucchesi) arrived at 5:16pm. Chair Burgis, Commissioners Hume, Ding, Nakanishi, Mussi and Omishakin were absent with no alternate present. At this time, we did have a quorum present.

3. Public Comment – Opportunity for the public to address the Commission regarding items not on the agenda

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was one:

Kathleen Shaefer, a PhD candidate from UC Davis, requested support with a project she is currently working on for the City of Isleton. The Jumpstart Grant was awarded from the CA Office of Emergency Services (OES) to fund a full-time grant writer for the implementation of a community-based flood insurance pilot program. In effect, this position would work toward reducing the cost of flood insurance for the citizens of Isleton. She asked for a letter of support from the Commission as she tries to work with the OES to reallocate the funding of this grant. Commissioner Steele offered to meet with her after the meeting.

Consent Agenda

4. Approval of November 16, 2023, Meeting Minutes

Motion: It was moved by Vice Chair Kott and seconded by Commissioner Villegas to approve the November 16, 2023, meeting minutes; in a voice vote, the motion passed 9-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

Regular Agenda

5. Report on Delta Stewardship Council Activities

Chair Burgis was not present, thus unable to deliver a report. Executive Director Blodgett stated that the Delta Stewardship Council will be meeting next week.

6. Elect Chair and Vice Chair for 2024

Executive Director Blodgett recommended a motion to reelect Chair Burgis and Vice Chair Vasquez for their second year.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Villegas and seconded by Commissioner Kott to reelect both Chair and Vice Chair; in a voice vote, the motion passed 9-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

7. Delta as Place Presentation

Dante Nomellini, Sr., Secretary and Council of the Central Delta Water Agency, delivered a presentation on the history of Water Rights in the Delta in which he detailed the actions of the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Board in reference to the Delta’s permanent and surplus water supplies. He emphasized the importance of the Water Code Section 11460 as a foundation for all current and future policy affecting the Delta but commented that it is often circumvented by federal and state agencies, which is a concern for the present Delta Conveyance Project. He referenced reports from official sources such as the Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. He highlighted alternatives to the Conveyance project to be ongoing levee improvements and desalination efforts.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

8. Report on Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) Activities

DPAC Chair Anna Swenson reported that a variety of topics had been discussed at the December 18 DPAC meeting, including updates on the Delta Conveyance Project EIR, the National Heritage Area Management Plan, and the levee subvention funding crisis impacting the reclamation districts. She announced the next DPAC meeting would be on February 6, 5:30 p.m. at the Stockton Sailing Club, which will have an update on the Delta Cross Channel.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

9. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Blodgett brought up highlights of his report beginning with the Delta Conveyance Project where he thanked all the lawyers filing lawsuits this week and stated the deadline to file is January 19.

He then introduced the two new staff members of the Delta Protection Commission: Commission Clerk Heather McClure and Senior Environmental Planner Mike Avina.

Executive Director Blodgett touched on the “Welcome to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area” signs that had gone up in Sacramento. One on Jefferson Blvd. is back up after being damaged and the Twin Cities Road signs are now in the process of going up. The San Joaquin County signs are currently held up while Caltrans makes adjustments to adhere to their local county specs.

He expressed the tremendous job Information Officer Holly Heyser, has done at improving Commission communications through social media posts and the Delta Happenings newsletter, as just two examples. He encouraged anyone needing regional events promoted to contact the office.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

10. Appointments to Delta Protection Advisory Committee

Executive Director Blodgett drew attention to the application for Gerry Goodie on page 13 in the agenda packet, mentioning he was a recent Delta Leadership Program graduate. He recommended Goodie be appointed to the Delta Protection Advisory Committee (DPAC) for the public position. He stated that there were no applicants for the tribal slot yet but there is ongoing outreach.

Commissioner Steele expressed that Goodie was a good candidate whom he has known for a long time and supports his appointment.

Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Steele and seconded by Commissioner Kott to appoint Gerry Goodie to DPAC; in a voice vote, the motion passed 9-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye.

11. Approve 2023 Annual Report

Executive Director Blodgett referred the Commission to page 19 in the agenda packet regarding the Action 2023 Annual Report which he reminded is an annual requirement pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 29780. It includes the letter from Chair Burgis, a brief background of the Commission, and an overview of programs and events from the past year in the areas of: Land & Water, Regional Economy, Recreation & Tourism, Heritage, Outreach & Education, and Leadership & Development. Some of the many items include working towards new segments for The Great Delta Trail, various outreach efforts for Delta Flood Preparedness Week, and receiving a 2023 Government Innovation Award from the American Society of Public Administration’s Sacramento Chapter for the Delta Leadership Program. Finally, the Report touches on other projects coming forward in the following year, which includes the Delta Conveyance Project and the Isleton Wastewater Treatment System Improvement Project.

He recommended approving the Annual Report.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

Motion: It was moved by Commissioner Kott and seconded by Commissioner Villegas to approve the Annual Report; in a voice vote, the motion passed 8-0-0 with all Commissioners present voting aye. (The vote took place prior to the arrival of Commissioner Bugsch.)

12. Delta Socioeconomic Indicators Update

Program Manager Virginia Gardiner gave a report on the 2023-initiated update on the Socioeconomic Indicators for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, accompanied by Zach Houghton, UC Davis student assistant. After reviewing the original indicators and need for studying the progress of economic and social well-being in the Delta, Ms. Gardiner introduced the new items of the report’s approach: broadband internet, alternate sources of performance measures, and the “R” programming language. Mr. Houghton went over key points of data changes such as population, employment rates and income, land use, housing and education. They discussed overall challenges with the study and spoke at length on broadband and the current federal funding projects and issues surrounding it.

Commissioner Villegas commented on broadband being such a foundational component, but with fiber being so expensive it would be advantageous to explore options of fiber optics.

Commissioner Eddie encouraged a regional data collection of county agricultural reports that may be helpful for the study.

Commissioner Slater offered to use DWR Land Use GIS data to produce statistics and make simple comparisons that could be valuable for the study.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

13. National Heritage Area Management Plan Update

Program Manager Blake Roberts provided a progress update on the National Heritage Area Management Plan. He covered the seven chapters that make up the management plan and followed with heavy encouragement for the commission members to secure letters of commitment and support. An administrative draft of the full management plan was made available in December 2023 for NHA Advisory Committee review. The National Park Service has been engaged since the beginning of the process and has been reviewing each draft chapter. He reported they are trying to finish edits in order to release the document for public comment in February for a 30-day period. There will be two public workshops held during this time. Once the Commission approves the Plan it will be submitted to the Secretary of Interior in Spring 2024 with the goal of having as minimal feedback as possible. From there it may take them several months to review it and let us know any changes to be made before we can finalize it.

Commissioner Vogel asked when Commission comments would be most valuable, and Mr. Roberts responded saying sooner would always be better.

Commissioner Villegas thanked Mr. Roberts and staff for the tremendous amount of work done on the administrative draft. He then suggested it may be beneficial to explore a non-profit entity for partnership.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

14. Commissioner Comments/Announcements

Commissioner Vogel announced that the Governor proposed $33 million for flood protection in the Delta.

Executive Director Blodgett announced the next meeting in Hood at the Willow Ballroom for March.

Commissioner Steele announced needing urgent help with sewer repair in Isleton, or the Delta will end up polluted come flood season this year.

Vice Chair Vasquez asked for public comment and there was none.

15. Adjourn

Vice Chair Vasquez adjourned the meeting at 7:11 p.m.