C.A. Overturns Approval of San Francisco Bay Sand Mining

By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer : metnews – excerpt

The State Lands Commission violated the public trust doctrine when it approved the dredge mining of sand from sovereign lands under the San Francisco Bay, the First District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.

Div. Four said the commission and a San Francisco Superior Court judge were wrong in concluding that an adequate review under the California Environmental Quality Act obviated the need for separate consideration of environmentalists’ claims that the plan was an inappropriate use of public trust land.

San Francisco Baykeeper, Inc., which has been fighting the project for years, sought a writ of mandate after the commission decided last year to renew, for 10-year terms, leases that were originally granted in 1998.

The leases allow three companies to extract sand from below Central San Francisco Bay, Suisun Bay, and the western Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, to be used in Bay Area construction project. Baykeeper argues that the mining is exacerbating a serious erosion problem, but the commission concluded that the alternative, requiring builders to bring in sand from a greater distance, would be at least as harmful to the environment.

The leaseholders requested in 2006 that the original 10-year terms be extended. The commission had been granting month-to-month extensions until it made its decision in October of last year to grant the full 10-year extensions, limiting the amount of extracted sand at each project parcel to a baseline tied to past activity.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Terri L. Jackson denied the writ, concluding that the commission had complied with its obligations under both CEQA and the public trust doctrine… (more)

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