The staff reports and comment letters associated with our first meeting of 2022 are available in our Archives. The Executive Officer’s report with updates and links to supplementary materials for a wide array of activities and projects is also available. Commission Chair Betty Yee called the meeting to order. Below are a few highlights from our very full agenda.
The Commission authorized a three-year moratorium on issuing mining permits on a 480-acre parcel near Bodie State Historic Park that is known as the Dry Lakes Plateau. This is an area of deep cultural significance to the Paiute people. The Commission also adopted a resolution in support of including the parcel on the National Register of Historic Places. In past years, mining companies have expressed interest in mineral prospecting and developing the minerals underlying this land. The moratorium enables the Commission to fully assess the cultural landscape and balance the preservation of an area with deep cultural significance to the Paiute people with the potential for future revenue generation. It is also consistent with California policies to protect cultural resources and tribal heritage, such as Executive Order N-15-19 and the Administration’s Native American Ancestral Lands Policy.
The Commission authorized the Executive Officer to retain a contractor to prepare an environmental document and conduct studies, including a survey to identify the number and location of abandoned commercial vessels, to implement a commercial abandoned and derelict vessel removal program in the Delta. Last year, the Legislature appropriated $12 million to the Commission to remove commercial abandoned and derelict vessels in this region. The Commission’s authorization will position the Commission to leverage this funding for the greatest public benefit. Collaboration with agency partners, the Legislature, and the public will be foundational as the Commission prepares to identify, remove, and dispose of commercial abandoned and derelict vessels in the Delta.
The Commission approved updated lease rental rates for the San Francisco Bay Region, including Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, and Sonoma counties. The rental rates, known as benchmarks, will inform the amount of rent the State will receive for the use of state-owned land and ensure that the people of California are fairly compensated for the use of state-owned land. The Commission’s benchmarks are generally updated every five years.
The Commission authorized the Executive Officer to retain a professional real estate broker to assist with acquiring property using School Land Bank Fund revenue. This action follows a recent report prepared for the Commission that provides a strategy to invest in commercial and agricultural property to generate revenue that will benefit CalSTRS, consistent with its mandate under the School Land Bank Act. The federal government granted school lands to California in 1853. These lands generally consist of the 16th and 36th sections of land in each township, with exceptions. The Commission’s action will ensure that investments are made with the utmost diligence, with minimum risk and maximum investment return.
Staff updated the Commission about legislation introduced in 2022 that affects the Commission, including legislation relating to offshore oil and gas development and deep-sea mining. The Commission voted to support legislation (AB 353, O’Donnell), that would reduce the State’s unfunded liability for future abandonment costs associated with oil and gas operations in the City of Long Beach. The Commission also voted to support legislation (AB 2257, Boerner-Horvath), that would require the Commission to develop a cost study that measures the fiscal impact of a voluntary buy-out of the State’s remaining offshore oil and gas lease interests.
Future Meetings and Ways to Stay Informed
The Commission’s next public meeting is on April 26 at 1 p.m. You can sign up to receive updates about this and future Commission meetings. Another great way to stay informed is by following the State Lands Commission on Twitter. Finally, you can watch a recording of the February meeting on the Cal-Span website.