Bolinas Community Public Utility District
A Special Meeting  Of  The Board  Of  Directors
August 11, 2010 - Special Location: 100 Mesa Road, Bolinas - Firehouse Public Meeting Room


1.  Call to Order

7:30 p.m.

2.  Roll

Directors Amoroso, Bender, Kimball, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding.

3.  Terrace Avenue (at Surfer’s Overlook) Water Main Relocation Project

Director Siedman stated that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the BCPUD’s planned project to relocate the water main off of Terrace Avenue at Surfer’s Overlook.  Director Kimball thanked everyone for attending and said she will be taking notes of all of the questions asked during the meeting to prepare a “Frequently Asked Questions” list.  Director Siedman noted that the BCPUD is planning to relocate the water main from under Terrace Avenue at Surfer’s Overlook due to on-going bluff erosion, much as the district did several years ago when it relocated the water main off of Terrace Avenue at Overlook Road (which collapsed this past winter).  Director Siedman said that staff will present the details of the project, with a question and answer session to follow. 

Staff thanked the public for attending and introduced Bill Pierce, Chief Operator, the district’s consulting engineers from Brelje & Race, Jack Locey and Brent Beazor, and Fire Chief Anita Tyrrell-Brown (who is present to answer questions relating to emergency access).  Staff provided an overview of the planned presentation and explained the background reasons for the project to relocate the water line, which has its origins in the unstable geologic formations that underlay the Big Mesa.  Most of the Big Mesa is comprised of Monterey Shale, which erodes at a relatively consistent rate of 1-2 feet per year on average (as documented in the Bolinas Gridded Mesa Plan); Surfer’s Overlook, however, is located at the point of transition to the more stable Merced formation.  On the Big Mesa, the district has relocated its existing water mains back from the bluffs in several areas (such as at Oak Road, most recently); similarly, the district has relocated and rerouted its water and sewer lines away from eroding bluffs on the Little Mesa. 

Staff has been concerned about the vulnerability of the water main at Surfer’s Overlook for some time because it is a central part of the district’s water distribution system and the only route for water to the Little Mesa.  In light of the high pressure of the water main at this location, a failure could be devastating – to the bluff and the road above it – and would leave hundreds of people without water.  Accordingly, in early 2008, the BCPUD Board authorized the district to proceed with the preliminary engineering and planning necessary to apply to the state for funding to relocate the water main away from Surfer’s Overlook; the engineer’s estimated cost of the project was $365,000.  The BCPUD then applied to the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (“SDWSRF”), which is administered by the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), for low-interest financing to install the project.  In June 2010, the CDPH asked if the district would be able to submit complete engineering plans by July 23, 2010 and install the project in the Fall of 2010, if the CDPH would provide the funding for the project under the SDWSRF.  The district agreed to do so in light of the importance of the project for the community.

Bill Pierce presented a map of the district’s water distribution system which identifies the sections of the water distribution and sewer collection systems which already have been relocated due to threatened bluff erosion.  Bill explained some of the details of these projects, which in some cases also would require customers to relocate their water and/or sewer service lines across their property.  Bill highlighted the section of the map identified as “TBA”, which is the section of the water main on Terrace Avenue at Surfer’s Overlook “to be abandoned” as a part of the project;  he emphasized that this section of the water main will not be dug out of the ground, but rather will be abandoned in place and plugged on either end.  Bill explained that the district currently has pressure regulators installed throughout its water distribution system – there are pressure regulators at the top of the stairs on Terrace Avenue, at the bottom of the stairs on Brighton, at the top of Rafael Way, and two are located at the intersection of Olema-Bolinas and Mesa Roads.  The purpose of these regulators is to reduce water pressure to the downtown area of the community.  By taking the water main at Surfer’s Overlook out of service, the district will have to move two of the existing pressure regulators – the pressure regulator at the top of Rafael Way will be moved down the easement to the intersection of Park and Terrace Avenues, and the pressure regulator at the top of the stairs will be removed entirely in favor of individual pressure regulators to be installed at specific properties.  In addition, the district plans to replace a section of the 4-inch steel water main on Park Avenue, which is at the end of its life.  Bill explained that water will be re-routed off of Terrace Avenue at Surfers Overlook and instead directed up Hillside, to Rafael, down the easement to Park and then back up Terrace toward the stairs, where it will rejoin the existing line down the stairs to Brighton Avenue and up to the Little Mesa. 

Bill answered several questions about the details of the project, including where water meters will be moved as a result of the project (four customers on Terrace and/or Hillside will have their meters moved).  Questions were raised about the district’s sewer line – will it also be relocated?  Bill explained that the sewer line is not a high pressure line, so the implications of a break of this line are not as significant and can be more easily dealt with; that said, while the sewer line eventually may be relocated, doing so is not a part of the current project.  Staff noted that the district’s engineers have prepared preliminary plans to relocate the sewer line at this location and the district has applied for priority project status to the State Water Resources Control Board to be eligible to apply for funding to move the line in the future.  Staff noted that a bluff stabilization project, should it occur, may eliminate the need to relocate the sewer line.

Staff discussed the portion of the project that will require the district to close Terrace Avenue to vehicular traffic – specifically, the narrow section of road south of the intersection of Terrace and Park up to Surfer’s Overlook – and noted that once that section of the project is installed, there will be much less impact to traffic as the district has requested the County to permit the use of Park from the tennis courts up to Terrace as a two-way street until the project is finished.  Staff then addressed the status of the encroachment permit – the district applied to the County of Marin Department of Public Works (“DPW”) for an encroachment permit to install the project (which is needed because Terrace Avenue is a County road) in late July.  DPW is concerned about the implications of a road closure for homeowner access given the fact that Terrace Avenue at Overlook Road has collapsed.  The BCPUD proposes to close the road to non-emergency traffic from 8:00 – Noon and from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. for approximately ten working days during the project installation.  Staff emphasized that emergency access will be allowed at all times; staff has worked with Anita Tyrell-Brown to identify the response time averages during the day to this area, which is 10-12 minutes for engines and 3-4 minutes for other emergency vehicles.  Staff also has consulted with contractors, who have indicated that they would be able to plate and open the road in 5 minutes or less for emergency vehicles.  Staff has developed a communication plan with the Bolinas Fire Protection District to ensure that any need for emergency access during the project will be communicated instantly to the contractor on site and Anita confirmed the details of that communication plan.

In response to questions, staff discussed alternatives for potential access to Terrace Avenue at Overlook Road.  The County DPW previously said it needed to wait until the rains stopped to determine next steps for a possible repair.  In August, BCPUD staff checked in with the County and County DPW e-mailed the district stating that the County had waited until the site had stabilized and dried out and that the DPW road staff has evaluated options and determined that major repairs will be necessary at a cost of at least $1 million.  County DPW stated that it has no funds for repairs and, in any event, a repair would take many months and cannot be completed before the BCPUD’s project is underway.   Audience members expressed frustration at the County’s perceived lack of action to address the condition of Terrace Avenue. 

Staff stated that the BCPUD investigated the possibility of various types of temporary access over the slide area, such as a Bailey bridge.  Staff located a company in the Sacramento area and obtained a quote to deliver and install a bridge over the slide for $60,000 – $80,000; this quote was passed on to the County, Staff also broached with the County the idea of putting temporary fill in the site to allow emergency access.  In both instances, the County declined to proceed, citing liability and cost considerations.  As to the temporary fill, the County expressed concern about voids under the slide and other unknown conditions; as for the Bailey bridge, the County has never installed one and the County’s road crew is booked with other projects.

Staff addressed the general topic of the stabilization of Terrace Avenue and noted that the BCPUD Board previously determined that the district should pursue a stabilization project at Surfer’s Overlook.  The BCPUD joined forces with the BFPD to contribute $25,000 to conduct a geotechnical analysis of Surfer’s Overlook and proposed to the County that the County match those funds; thanks to Supervisor Kinsey, the County agreed to do so.  The BCPUD and BFPD formed a “working group” of representatives to investigate possible projects and research design and permit requirements.  The working group traveled to Santa Cruz in February 2010 to view a bluff stabilization project under construction there and met with the engineers on site.  The BCPUD, BFPD and the County issued a joint Request for Proposals for Geotechnical Consulting Services on July 1, 2010.  Responses were submitted on July 30, 2010 and the working group currently is checking references in order to make a decision as to the most highly ranked firm.  The goal of the working group is push an aggressive schedule to be permit-ready as soon as possible. 

Questions were raised about the timing of the district’s water main relocation project and whether the road will need to be closed for more than ten days; engineers confirmed the ten-day estimate.  However Jack Locey cautioned that the ten-day estimate is based on the County allowing the project to be installed as proposed, with the road closed to traffic for two four-hour periods per day.  If the County does not allow this, then it could take longer for the project to be installed.  Also, the ten-day period might not be ten consecutive days.  Bill Pierce emphasized that the encroachment permit is still under review at the County and that unfortunately there will be some unknowns until the permit issues are resolved.  

Roger Peacock inquired why the community is not putting more pressure on the County to repair Terrace Avenue at Overlook Road.  Director Smith recounted the history of the district’s efforts in this regard over many years.  The County has acknowledged that it has an obligation to maintain access to homes, but not through access – until this winter, the County was maintaining access on Terrace via Overlook Road.  Now, in light of the on-going slide there, the County is stepping up to join the district’s efforts to stabilize Terrace Avenue at Surfer’s Overlook.  Residents were urged to express their support for a repair of Terrace Avenue to Supervisor Kinsey.

Questions were asked about parking for Terrace Avenue residents during the course of the project and whether spaces on Brighton Avenue could be reserved for those residents.  Director Amoroso reminded residents that the road will be open weekends and during the week from 5:00 p.m. through 8:00 a.m. (as well as an hour from Noon – 1:00 p.m.).  Bill Pierce said as soon as the district receives the encroachment permit and the conditions of the project are clear, staff will investigate parking implications. 

Rudi Ferris said he is very angry at the County; he said that if the BCPUD relocates its water main and potentially also its sewer main, such action is tacit acceptance of the County’s “horrible” position on Terrace Avenue.  He feels the BCPUD is running away from, rather than battling against, the County.  Rudi said the homeowner at the top of Terrace Avenue is open to moving her home back to allow Terrace to be re-opened at this location.  Director Siedman said that saving Terrace Avenue at Surfer’s Overlook is the purpose of the geotechnical bluff stabilization project; the BCPUD is doing what it needs to do for its water system to ensure water supply for the town by moving its water main.  He said it is important to differentiate between the BCPUD protecting its infrastructure vs. the County failing to take action to save the road.  Director Kimball underscored the need for the BCPUD to protect the community’s water supply and her agreement that the County must act to protect property owners’ access to their property. 

Staff was asked whether the geotechnical engineers under consideration for the bluff stabilization work have the ability to actually push a project forward.  Staff confirmed that relevant background experience with permitting and installation of bluff stabilization projects is a key factor in the contractor selection process.  

Ken Masterson asked whether homeowners in the area that will have limited access during the course of the project can have an emergency telephone contact in the event they need to get out unexpectedly.  Jack Locey from Brelje & Race confirmed that the contractor will provide emergency telephone numbers to all residents impacted by the project prior to the start of work. 

Janine Aroyan asked what the County’s responsibility is for road maintenance – legally, can they leave the top of Terrace Avenue at Overlook Road as-is?  Director Siedman said that originally the County claimed it had no responsibility to maintain Terrace Avenue then, after the BCPUD retained counsel to pursue the matter, the County acknowledged it does have responsibility to maintain homeowner access, but not through access.  As such, if this is correct, the County currently is fulfilling its responsibility because the road is still open via Surfer’s Overlook.

In response to questions, Bill Pierce confirmed that water will be shut off to property owners for very limited periods of time during the course of the project and that property owners will be told ahead of time when the shut offs will occur.  In addition, the district will notify various service providers, such as the garbage company, the propane companies, etc. about the project so that those services are not impeded.  One resident suggested that a shuttle vehicle for residents with limited access during the project might be a beneficial service.  Another resident noted that small cracks have appeared in the road near Surfer’s Overlook and asked if that can be repaired.  Bill said this is County maintenance responsibility; however, the BCPUD is going to be required to re-seal the entire road after the project is complete, so it will be addressed at that time if not before.

Bill Lyons asked if an emergency road can be put in from Overlook to Marin Way, behind the former Oakander house.  Bill Pierce noted that there is a utility easement in this location, but it is only ten-feet wide; in addition, there is a canyon and multiple private properties in that location.  Questions were raised about non-emergency access during the course of the project.  Jack Locey from Brelje & Race said that any kind of access the district wishes to allow theoretically can be worked around, however the cost of the project will increase considerably if the contractor cannot keep working consistently.  Maji asked about the likely time period for the project – if the permit is issued shortly, when will the project start?  Staff said the project likely will start between October 1 – 15th.  Jack Locey cautioned that the state funding is not yet released and the state will require a 30-day minimum bid period, so that start date is tentative, depending on how things develop over time.

Bill Lyons asked whether an alternative route to Terrace Avenue will be developed and, if so, who is responsible.  Director Siedman said that this would be a County responsibility.  Rudi Ferris said that the Terrace Avenue committee evaluated this topic years ago and that an alternative route would be considerably more expensive than stabilizing Terrace Avenue (and nearby residents are opposed to an alternative access route).  

Finally, questions were asked about the term of the loan financing for the project.  Staff and engineers said the loan term would be 20 – 30 years.  The CDPH is distributing federal stimulus money via low-interest loans so that they have money coming back in to redistribute as additional loans or even grants.

Director Siedman said that the district would continue to update the community with information as it becomes available, particularly once the encroachment permit is issued, and residents were urged to call the district with any additional questions.

4.    Community Expression


5.    Adjournment

9:15 p.m.