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Meredith Pier Google Earth View.
Meredith Pier Google Earth View.

Meredith Pier
a Community Hazard

Aug 29, 2019

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Attend the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Meeting September 10, 2019

Agenda with timing posted 72 hours prior to meeting at  sonomacounty.ca.gov/Home/

By Ed Cohen, Bodega Bay resident 

Next to the pink and white striped, Patrick’s of Bodega Bay on Highway 1 stands the Old Cannery Building also referred to asMeredith Pier. It juts out more than 100 feet over the bay showcasing its former glory; and it is falling apart.

Meredith Fish wharf in its glory days.

Concerned about protecting our waters and the safety of those who might try to access it, I contacted Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins in August 2018. Amie Windsor, Field Representative to Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, responded, “The County owns the building and is aware of the condition. I still haven’t learned if we are doing anything about it, but I can tell you we know about it.”

We are not sure how long the building has been owned by the county. One document references the portion over the water that comprises 90% and pier being owned by Sonoma County since 1951 when the County was granted all the sovereign tide and submerged lands in Bodega Harbor. A news article from 1983 indicates the building was owned by Sonoma County as far back as 1971. What we do know is that the county has ownership of the building today and it is there responsibility to do something about it.

In December 2018, I wrote for an update and received this response “Staff have connected with Regional Parks, Risk Management, and County Counsel to discuss options for addressing the conditions of the property. We have taken steps to prevent access.” 

Meredith Pier from the bay, a community hazard.

Clearly they were misinformed. It’s August 2019 and people can access the building and pier from the parking lot and the water. There’s fresh graffiti painted inside the building where it’s most deteriorated.

The cost to demolish the building is estimated at $2.6M. Why so much? The materials used to construct this building or the contents inside the building are hazardous. They potentially contain creosote, lead-based paint, and possibly even asbestos.

In January 2019, I wrote Supervisor Hopkins, “With the recent rains, winds and waves, this building has become even more ruined. As you can see in the pictures the building is now falling apart causing a hazard for the bay and for the safety of people who might go near it.”

Caroline Judy, Director, General Services Agency County of Sonoma responded that the Board of Supervisors was meeting in March to “identify and discuss strategies to mitigate the most critical deferred maintenance needs, including this one, on County owned properties.”

She also stated, “The building was boarded up to prevent access. We will have one of our FacOPS staff visit the site again to evaluate how best to secure the property.” Even she was misinformed.

Supervisor Hopkins came to Bodega Bay and surveyed the sight end of July. Here’s an email from her email to me after the visit-

“I am aware of the deteriorated building, and was actually out at the site today. I looked at the building both from land and from the water (via kayak) in order to view the status of the full structure, including the piers. Additional security measures are needed to prevent human access to the structure and I have asked General Services to address this concern.”

Then on August 2, 2019, Supervisor Hopkins communicated- “I have worked with General Services staff to bring this item before the full Board of Supervisors on September 10. I’d urge you to attend the board meeting on September 10 to advocate for funding with the full Board of Supervisors present — that will be a more productive use of your time.”

I also exchanged messages with California Coastal Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh about this story and her response was, “Unfortunately commissioners are advised not to comment on projects that could come before us.” However, she did forward a request to the commission to look into it.

Here’s what we know: 

  • Sonoma County owns the building. 

  • An article in the Bodega Bay Navigator on Sunday, April 4, 2004 states the county condemned the building in February of that year and that there were plans to demolish it.

  • The county claims the building is secure and cannot be accessed however; people still have access from all sides of the building. There is fresh graffiti painted on the inside of the building, visible from the Sonoma Coast Visitors Center.

  • As recent as March 2019 (15 years after being condemned), Sonoma County Board of Supervisors declined to allocate funds to demolish the building.

  • The building is a hazardous waste site. Why else would it cost $2.6M to demolish it?

  • Every time it rains or is windy (most days in Bodega Bay), poisonous pieces are falling into our waters.

UPDATE: from Lynda Hopkins

On September 10, the Board of Supervisors will receive a presentation from General Services with input from Regional Parks regarding deferred maintenance of all county-owned properties. The needs of Bodega Bay will be highlighted, including the Tidelands Lease, Spud Point Marina, and General Servicesheld properties including Meredith Wharf/Cannery Building and the Yacht Club building. The most recent estimate I have for the decommissioning of the Wharf (without pier removal, just decommissioning the building and decking) is $1.1M. In advance of the meeting, I have asked General Services to look into whether the pier pilings of Meredith Wharf are sound, and whether they could be used for a new structure that could provide some community benefit, since I have received inquiries regarding possible preservation/renovation of the structure.

September 10, 2019  Time: TBA

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors - (707) 565-2241

575 Administration Drive, Hearing Room  Santa Rosa

 

Comments:

Sep 4, 2019
The landlord, i.e., the County, has been shining us on for years. This landlord is allowing debris, which may contain lead, asbestos, etc., to fall into and pollute the Ocean, and that has been going on for some time. To have an, in effect, a garbage dump on the ocean front, is a violation of the California Coastal Act. Before the September 19th County hearing, where this matter is just a small line item among a bunch of others, you should file a complaint with the California Coastal Commission, and then you might see some action.
- Donatas Januta

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