The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) protects and enhances San Francisco Bay and encourages the Bay’s responsible and productive use for this and future generations. BCDC has regulatory responsibility over development in San Francisco Bay and along the Bay’s nine-county shoreline. BCDC is guided in its decisions by the McAteer-Petris Act, the San Francisco Bay Plan, and other plans for specific areas around the Bay.
Do I need a BCDC permit?
If you are planning to build or somehow pursue a project that touches San Francisco Bay or touches any point along the Bay shoreline in the following Bay Area counties you likely need to apply for, and receive, a permit from BCDC prior to commencing the project: Alameda; Contra Costa; Marin; Napa; San Francisco; San Mateo; Santa Clara; Solano; and, Sonoma.
Where is the Commission’s jurisdiction?
Because the Commission’s jurisdiction includes the Bay and the first 100 feet inland from the shoreline around the Bay, a map that portrays that jurisdiction would change daily. However, here are five identifying characteristics of BCDC’s jurisdiction:
- The open water, marshes and mudflats of greater San Francisco Bay, including Suisun, San Pablo, Honker, Richardson, San Rafael, San Leandro and Grizzly Bays and the Carquinez Strait.
- The first 100 feet inland from the shoreline around San Francisco Bay.
- The portion of the Suisun Marsh, including levees, waterways, marshes and grasslands, below the ten-foot contour line.
- Portions of most creeks, rivers, sloughs and other tributaries that flow into San Francisco Bay.
- Salt ponds, duck hunting preserves, game refuges and other managed wetlands that have been diked off from San Francisco Bay.
BCDC’s jurisdiction extends to the mean high tide line in areas that do not contain tidal marsh and up to five feet above mean sea level in areas of tidal marsh. The 100-foot shoreline band extends inland for 100 feet from the shoreline of the Bay. In addition, BCDC has jurisdiction over certain waterways in the Bay. For specific information on BCDC’s jurisdiction see section 66610 of The McAteer-Petris Act. For additional resources, or to get assistance in understanding BCDC’s jurisdiction, please see the SF Bay Tidal Datums Web Application. More information can be found on the BCDC Activities Requiring Permit Approval page.
What types of activity require a permit?
A BCDC permit must be obtained before any of the actions below occur within the Commission’s jurisdiction, among others:
- Place solid material; dispose of material; build or repair docks, pile-supported, or cantilevered structures; or, moor a vessel for an extended period.
- Dredge or extract material from the Bay bottom.
- Substantially change the use of any structure or area.
- Construct, remodel or repair a structure.
- Subdivide property or grade land.
How do I apply for BCDC permit?
The first step in applying for a permit is to determine whether the project you propose is to be located within the Commission’s jurisdiction. It is usually best to contact BCDC at (415) 352-3600 to have an initial discussion with a BCDC staff member to determine BCDC’s jurisdiction and authority regarding the project. A BCDC permit requires the project proponent to complete an application form, of which there are three separate types. When submitted, an application fee must accompany the application form. The owner of the project site or the owner’s representative (architect, attorney, contractor, etc.) must submit the application. BCDC staff prefers to discuss with an applicant the information required on the application prior to the application being submitted; such discussions generally shorten the period required for Commission consideration. In addition, BCDC requires an applicant to demonstrate his/her property interest prior to deeming an application complete and may request a survey of the property in question.
What are the differences among the three different types of applications?
There are 3 application forms:
- There is one application form used for major permits, administrative permits, and regionwide permits (PDF).
- There is another application form used for abbreviated regionwide permits (PDF), which is shorter and requests less information than the application referred to above.
- BCDC also accepts the Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA) in place of our regular application form for major permits, administrative permits, and regionwide permits. While the JARPA asks for the same information, it allows applicants to use one form to apply for permits from several agencies with regulatory authority over bodies of water.
The BRRIT was formed to improve the permitting process for multi-benefit habitat restoration projects and associated flood management and public access infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay and along the shoreline of the nine Bay Area counties (excluding the Delta Primary Zone). The BRRIT consists of staff dedicated to this purpose from six of the state and federal regulatory agencies that may have jurisdiction over habitat restoration projects in San Francisco Bay, including BCDC.
The Restoration Authority will regularly issue calls for projects to participate in the BRRIT pre-application and permitting process. Please contact the Restoration Authority at BRRIT@sfbayrestore.org to receive emails about the Restoration Authority’s solicitation for projects or if you have any questions about how to get your restoration project on the Project List for BRRIT review.
To be placed on the BRRIT Project List:
- Projects must qualify for funding under the Restoration Authority’s definition of multi-benefit wetland restoration projects and their associated flood management and public access infrastructure features (an eligible project does not have to be receiving Authority funding); and
- Projects must be entered into EcoAtlas as “San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (Eligible).” If your project is not yet included in EcoAtlas, please use the EcoAtlas Project Tracker tool to add your project. Restoration Authority staff will then determine Measure AA eligibility and add projects to the BRRIT Project List
A recording of the May 28, 2019 webinar about how to submit projects to the BRRIT can be found here: https://youtu.be/UBcWVP9qQfM