Deskside with David: New Leader Takes the Helm at BCDC
It turns out that Larry Goldzband and I were wandering the same marble hallways of Washington, DC, 30 years ago, long before San Francisco Bay brought us together.
In 1983, Larry was working on the staff of a liberal Republican Congressman from Manhattan (before that species was banished from the U.S. Congress). Rep. Bill Green had a stellar voting record for the environment and against building more nuclear weapons. I was a DC lobbyist for Friends of the Earth, trying to get Congress to put the brakes on Ronald Reagan’s nuclear weapons buildup.
It’s almost possible to be nostalgic for those days, when party allegiance was strong, but not absolute. Individual Republicans and Democrats teamed up on issues, compromised to resolve disputes – they even spoke in civil tones to each other, most of the time.
Now, as Larry Goldzband becomes the newest executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), I see how that experience still shapes his own approach to people and government.
I met Larry when I returned to the Bay Area from Washington, DC, to lead Save The Bay in 1998. He was serving as the California Resources Agency’s Commissioner on BCDC just a few years after Governor Pete Wilson had tried to eliminate BCDC’s funding. Over 14 years, we have shared many observations, and I see valuable assets he has as he takes on this challenging new job.
He’s very familiar with the agency, having served as a BCDC Commissioner for two stints totaling nine years. He has a good sense of humor and perspective – he treats people with respect and he listens. He also appreciates the important contributions of non-governmental organizations to policy development, after many years managing PG&E’s charitable contributions program.
He’s taking a challenging job at a challenging time. BCDC has been led for so many years by Will Travis, that no agency staff and few permit applicants have experience with any other Executive Director. State funding is tight, and public agency employee benefits are under attack. Many experienced BCDC staff have retired recently, reducing institutional memory.
BCDC has increased regional awareness of sea level rise impacts coming to the Bay shoreline, and updated its climate change policies last year, but the hard choices about where to restore marshes, reinforce levees, and relocate infrastructure are coming soon.
We all count on BCDC as the Bay’s first line of defense. We’re anxious to work with Larry to help BCDC protect the Bay from emerging threats and capture the tremendous restoration opportunities on the shoreline, and to build on the great accomplishments of the Commission that Save The Bay helped create forty years ago.
- David Lewis, Executive Director