Delta Protection Commission:  “Committed to the Protection and Health of the Delta”

The mission of the Delta Protection Commission is to protect, maintain, enhance and enrich the overall quality of the Delta environment and economy.  The Commission does this with a focus on agriculture, recreation and natural resources, while remaining mindful of the importance of the Delta to all Californians.

Valuing the needs of the Delta as well as the needs of the State is fundamental to achieving the Commission’s vision: an ideal synthesis of cultural, ecological and agricultural values in a sustainable, healthy and celebrated way of life.

 

The Delta Protection Act

In September of 1992, the California Legislature declared that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, consisting of approximately 738,000 acres, is a natural resource of statewide, national, and international significance, containing irreplaceable resources and that it is the policy of the State to recognize, preserve, and protect those resources for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.

Recognizing the possible threat to Delta resources from urban encroachment, with the potential to significantly impact agriculture, wildlife habitat, and recreation uses, former Senator Patrick Johnston sponsored legislation (SB 1866) leading to the adoption of the Delta Protection Act. The Act was signed by the Governor on September 23, 1992, with subsequent amendments in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and renamed the Delta Reform Act in 2009.  It is codified in the State Public Resources Code beginning with Sections 297000.

The Act includes mandates for the designation of primary and secondary zones within the legal Delta, creation of a Delta Protection Commission, and completion of a Land Use and Resource Management Plan for the Primary Zone of the Delta.

To view the Commission’s enabling legislation, see Delta Protection Act.

 

Membership of the Delta Protection Commission

Pursuant to the provisions of the Act, the fifteen-member Delta Protection Commission was created.  Its diverse composition provides for stakeholder representation in the areas of agriculture, habitat, and recreation.

As specifically provided for in the Act, members of the Commission include: One member of the Board of Supervisors of each of the five counties within the Delta (Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo), whose supervisorial district is within the Primary Zone; an elected city council member representing  the County of San Joaquin; an elected city council member representing the Counties of Contra Costa and Solano (on a rotating basis); an elected city council member from the regional and area councils of government representing the Counties of Sacramento and Yolo; landowners from north, south, and central Delta reclamation districts; and high-level leaders from Business, Transportation and Housing, the Natural Resources Agency, Food and Agriculture, and the State Lands Commission.  The two ex-officio members of the Commission are representatives of the Senate and  Assembly.

Members of the Commission all are bound by a Conflict of Interest Code that ensures Commission actions are free of inappropriate influence.  See the current roster of Commissioners.

 

Land Use and Resource Management Plan for the Primary Zone

As called for in the Act, a Land Use and Resource Management Plan for the Primary Zone of the Delta was prepared and adopted by the Commission in 1995 and revised in 2002 and 2010. The Management Plan sets out findings, policies, and recommendations resulting from background studies in the areas of environment, utilities and infrastructure, land use, agriculture, water, recreation and access, levees, and marine patrol/boater education/safety programs.  In conformance with the provisions of the Act, local government general plans are to provide for consistency with the provisions of the Management Plan. The Commission serves as an Appeal body in the event an action of a local entity on a project located within the Primary Zone is challenged as being inconsistent with the Act or the Management Plan. For more detailed information on the Plan and the appeals process, see the Land Use and Appeals pages.  The Land Use and Resource Management Plan is incorporated in the California Code of Regulations.

The Act also specifies that on January 1 of each year, the Commission shall submit to the Governor and the Legislature a report describing the progress that has been made in achieving the objectives of the Act and the relevant sections of the Public Resources Code. Read the 2016 Annual Report.

 

Primary and Secondary Zone Designations

Pursuant to the Act, the Primary Zone of the Delta is the land and water area situated within the boundaries of the Delta, as described in Section 12220 of the Water Code, but not within either the urban limit line or sphere of influence line of any local government’s general plan or studies existing as of January 1, 1992.  The boundary lines of the Primary Zone include the land and water areas shown on the map titled “Delta Protection Zones” on file with the California State Lands Commission. Where the boundary between the Primary Zone and Secondary Zone is a river, stream, channel, or waterway, the boundary line shall be the middle of that river, stream, channel, or waterway. The Primary Zone consists of approximately 500,000 acres.

The Secondary Zone is all the Delta land and water area within the boundaries of the legal Delta not included within the Primary Zone, subject to the land use authority of local government, and that includes the land and water areas as shown on the map referenced above. The Secondary Zone consists of approximately 238,000 acres.  Click here for maps of the Delta zones.