The February 2021 meeting was especially momentous because the Commission adopted a new five-year strategic plan to guide its work through 2025. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis presided over the meeting in her new role as Chair.
The staff reports and comment letters associated with our February public meeting, our first of the year, are available in our Archives. The Executive Officer’s report, which contains updates and links to supplementary materials for activities and projects involving the Commission is also available.
For the past year and a half, the Commission has been crafting a new strategic plan. At our February meeting, staff presented the final proposed 2021-2025 strategic plan and highlighted the successes from our 2015-2020 strategic plan. The climate is warming, sea levels are rising, California is transitioning to clean energy, and racial and environmental injustices persist. The new 2021-2025 strategic plan positions the Commission to respond and lead in these and other public land and natural resource management areas.
Despite the challenges, 2020 brought staff found new ways to outreach and engage in a virtual world to ensure that stakeholder input gathered during virtual outreach sessions was reflected in the final strategic plan. Although a relatively small agency, the Commission plays an enormously important role in California through its public land and resource management responsibilities. The new strategic plan lays out the core values and guiding principles that will serve as the lens by which the Commission approaches its work. The Commissioners expressed their immense gratitude to the public and staff for the collaboration, energy, and “can do” attitude that underpinned the development of this strategic plan. The Commission and its staff are eager to get to work and implement the new strategic plan.
The Commission heard presentations from California’s five largest ports about the opportunities and challenges they see in the years ahead as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, about their COVID-19 pandemic responses, and about the partnership opportunities between the Commission and the ports. The Commissioners commended the ports for the comprehensive and extensive assistance and support they have provided their communities and the state to obtain and provide PPE, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, supporting those experiencing homelessness, and helping their communities provide food security through food banks—all while sustaining essential cargo and maritime operations.
The Commission voted to sponsor state legislation (AB 1390, Boerner-Horvath) that will help it generate revenue to support retired teachers. This legislation will provide the Commission with additional tools to acquire and steward a category of public lands, known as school lands, that the Commission manages to generate revenue for retired teachers and facilitate renewable energy development. This legislation will also better position the Commission to avail itself of opportunities to work with the federal government to facilitate renewable energy projects, which will help California transition to a clean energy future, and help contribute to the state and federal 30 by 30 policies. Staff also briefed the Commission on legislation introduced this year in the California State Legislature and provided a status updated on about 65 bills that staff is tracking.
RTI Infrastructure Subsea Fiber Optic Cables Project
The Commission adopted a Mitigated Negative Declaration, a Mitigation Monitoring Program, and issued a lease to install fiber-optic cables on tide and submerged land in the Pacific Ocean offshore Samoa, Humboldt County. These actions facilitate installing subsea cables necessary to keep up with technological advancements to transmit uninterrupted data for essential businesses. The subsea cables would begin in Asia or Australia and be laid on the ocean floor. When they reach offshore areas near Humboldt County, they will be buried, pulled up through a landing pipe, and connected to an onshore cable-landing site.
Future Meetings and Ways to Stay Informed
The Commission’s next public meeting will be on April 27, 2021. You can sign up here to receive updates about this and future meetings. Another great way to stay informed is by following the State Lands Commission on Twitter.